Blistering heat dome 'Lucifer' heads north to Portugal, central Italy
Blistering heat dome ‘Lucifer’ heads for Portugal and into central Italy as wildfires rip through Mediterranean and temperatures hit 122.5F in Tunisia
- Anticyclone – nicknamed ‘Lucifer’- moved from Africa, bringing blistering heat
- Sicily reported a temperature of 119F at the island’s Syracuse station Wednesday
- The highest ever temperature previously in Europe was 118F in 1977 in Athens
- Temperature of 122.5F recorded in Kairouan, northern Tunisia, may be a record
The blistering heat dome dubbed ‘Lucifer’, which has brought record temptatures to southern Europe and sparked wildfires, was heading to Portugal and central Italy, on Thursday, as hot air from the Sahara continued to engulf large parts of the Mediterranean.
The Saharan anticyclone hit Sicily on Wednesday pushing the mercury in the city of Syracuse to a record breaking high of 119.8F and causing over 500 fires.
It is the latest in a bout of extreme weather in Europe after flash floods hit northern Turkey on Wednesday as wildfires continued to burn in Greece and Italy and temperatures hit 122.5F/50.3C in Tunisia.
And the anticyclone’s continued movement north across mainland Italy, Portugal, and Spain has increased fears of more life-threatening wildfires across the continent.
It comes after a damning UN report on Monday warned the world is already experiencing the effects of climate change and that they are set to get rapidly worse.
A blistering heat dome dubbed ‘Lucifer’ was heading north to Portugal, central Italy, and towards Rome on Thursday as hot air from the Sahara continued to engulf large parts of the Mediterranean region
The Saharan anticyclone hit Sicily on Wednesday pushing the mercury in the city of Syracuse to a sweltering 119.8F – a record breaking high – and causing over 500 fires.
Sicily’s agriculture-meteorological information service reported a temperature of 119.8F was reached at the island’s Syracuse station on Wednesday, though the temperature is yet to be independently confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Italy said a record-breaking 119.8F was recorded in the city of Syracuse on Wednesday, though the temperature is yet to be independently confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The previous highest temperature ever recorded on the European continent was 118F in Athens in 1977.
A WMO spokesperson told the MailOnline researchers were ‘actively looking into this observation’ which was recorded by an agro-meterological group in Sicily, not the official Italian weather service, which is run by the military.
Sicilian residents on Wednesday described the heat as ‘unbearable’ and said the temperatures were making it difficult to breath.
‘It’s really difficult to breathe, so even going outside, there’s a sort of warm wind – almost like a siroc of wind – and it makes it really really hard to breathe’, Fabio Basile told BBC Newsnight.
Italy’s health ministry on Wedneday issued ‘red’ alerts for extreme heat for several regions.
But Basile, who moved to the UK from Sicily 18 years ago, said residents had received little advice from authorities with only warnings ‘for the elderly to stay inside and cool down.’
He said Sicily residents were relying on air-con in some of the homes but admitted ‘it’s not the best solution for the planet’.
A woman sits near a fountain in a street of Catania, Sicily, Southern Italy, as the country faces a heatwave
People cools their pets down in a fountain in Catania, Sicily on Wednesday as temperatures hit 45C
People enjoy the sea during a hot summer day in Messina, Sicily, as the continent braces a heatwave
Meanwhile fires stoked by hot winds swept through southern Italy on Thursday.
Firefighters said they had carried out more than 500 operations in Sicily and Calabria in the last 12 hours, employing five planes to try to douse the flames from above.
They said the situation was now ‘under control’ on the island but local media reported that trees and land were burning in the Madonie mountains some 100 km from the Sicilian capital of Palermo and in the small town of Linguaglossa, on the slopes of the Etna volcano.
‘Our small town was really invaded by fire. It is a catastrophe … We are living through some really sad moments,’ said Giovanna Licitra, from the village of Giarratana in the south of the island which was hit by fires on Wednesday.
Serious damage has also been reported in Calabria, the toe of Italy’s ‘boot’.
The burned body of a 79-year-old man was found in the Reggio Calabria area on Wednesday, while another man, aged 77, died in the same region after trying to shelter his herd from the flames, news agencies reported.
Their deaths follow those of a 53-year-old woman and her 35-year-old nephew, also in Reggio Calabria, who died last Friday trying to save the family olive grove.
Last week Italy’s fire service was also battling blazes in the southern town of Gravina in Puglia and San Giacomo degli Schiavoni, further to the north, after infernos in Sicily and Pescara at the weekend.
Regional authorities in Sicily have declared a state of emergency as a result of the fires, while 50 voluntary fire-fighting teams from around Italy have flown in to help battle the blazes.
Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey have also been hit by wildfires helped by hot weather and fanned by strong winds.
Across the Mediterranean, Algeria has also been hit by fires, with the North African country starting three days of mourning on Thursday after the death toll rose to 69.
Regional authorities in Sicily have declared a state of emergency as a result of the fires, while 50 voluntary fire-fighting teams from around Italy have flown in to help battle the blazes
Fires stoked by hot winds swept through southern Italy on Thursday and firefighters said they had carried out more than 500 operations in Sicily and Calabria in the last 12 hours
Meanwhile, Turkey’s disaster and emergency agency said severe floods and mudslides had killed at least five people with another missing on Thursday.
The floods battered the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun on Wednesday, demolishing homes and bridges and sweeping away cars as helicopters scrambled to rescue people stranded on rooftops.
The worst-hit area appeared to be in Kastamonu, where flooding inundated much of the town of Bozkurt. At least 13 people were injured when a section of a bridge collapsed in Bartin province.
In Sinop, helicopters lifted 19 people to safety. Many of the affected areas were left without power and village roads were blocked.
It is the latest in a series of extreme weather events in Turkey and came as firefighters were still working to extinguish wildfires in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea.
The blaze was one of more than 200 wildfires in Turkey since July 28. At least eight people and countless animals died and thousands of residents have had to flee fierce blazes.
Turkey’s disaster and emergency agency said severe floods and mudslides had killed at least five people with another missing on Thursday
TURKEY: The floods battered the Black Sea coastal provinces of Bartin, Kastamonu, Sinop and Samsun on Wednesday, demolishing homes and bridges and sweeping away cars as helicopters scrambled to rescue people stranded on rooftops
TURKEY: Firefighters are still working to extinguish wildfires in Mugla province, an area popular with tourists that runs along the Aegean Sea
TURKEY: At least eight people and countless animals died and thousands of residents have had to flee fierce blazes
Heat warnings were also issued on Wednesday in southern France, where forecasters warned of a ‘very severe risk’ of fires due to the combination of dry and windy weather.
Spain’s weather service, AEMET, on Wednesday recorded a temperature of 116F in the Costa Del Sol and said mercury levels could also surpass 111F in other areas.
And Greek authorities warned the public to avoid unnecessary journeys as temperatures rose to 113F in some parts.
As the temperatures across Europe continue to rise, lead forecaster at Severe Weather EU, Marko Korosec, said a ‘more intense heatwave is expected to develop for Spain and Portugal’ later this week.
He said: ‘Towards the weekend, the heat dome and the upper ridge is expected to expand also across the Iberian peninsula.
‘Coming into Friday, the heatwave significantly ramps up as much warmer air mass advects farther north and west across the Iberian peninsula.’
AEMET, said ‘the maximum and minimum temperatures will reach levels far above the normal for this time of the year’.
The body warned heat ‘could lead to adverse effects on people’s health
Adding: ‘Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are facing a probable heatwave.
‘This could lead to adverse effects on people’s health and to a significant risk of forest fires.’
Workers on a construction site stop to have a drink in Madrid, Spain, as Europe roasts in a hear dome
A woman fans herself in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, as temperatures begin to rise at the start of the heatwave
Hundreds of tourists flood a beach in Barcelona as the country braces itself for a severe heatwave
Portugal’s prime minister António Costa warned on Wednesday the hot weather would increase the threat of wildfires, which in 2017 killed more than 100 people in the country.
Mr Costa urged people to take special care amid the scorching weather and wildfire danger, adding that many wildfires start with ‘careless behaviour’.
He also said said ‘the terrible images’ from Greece and Turkey in recent days had brought back memories of the disaster in 2017.
‘We don’t want to see that scenario here again,’ Mr Costa said in a videotaped message at his official residence.
While peaks in temperature are not unheard of in Spain and Portugal during the summer months, climate scientists say there is little doubt climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is driving extreme events, such as heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods and storms.
Researchers can directly link a single event to climate change only through intensive data analysis, but they say such calamities are expected to happen more frequently on our warming planet.
The surge in heat comes after the holiday resort of Alicante was hit by a meteotsunami which flooded streets and beaches and damaged cars after the severe changes in atmospheric pressure.
Santa Pola was hit overnight on Wednesday by the freak weather incident, called a rissaga in Catalan Spanish.
These are large, tsunami-like waves are triggered by severe changes in atmospheric pressure caused by fast-moving weather events, such as a heatwave.
Santa Pola was hit overnight on Wednesday by the freak weather incident, called a rissaga in Catalan Spanish
Alicante resort Santa Pola was hit by a meteotsunami which flooded streets and beaches and damaged cars after severe changes in atmospheric pressure
The UN report, which as been dubbed a ‘code red for humanity’, said the Earth is likely to warm by 1.5C within the next 20 years — a decade earlier than previously expected — and heatwaves, flooding and droughts will become more frequent and intense.
Scientists had expected temperatures to rise by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 but now believe it will happen between this year and 2040.
‘It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,’ said report co-author Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. ‘I don’t see any area that is safe… Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.’
The report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was produced by 200 scientists from 60 countries.
Drawing on more than 14,000 scientific papers, the review included the latest knowledge on past and potential future warming, how humans are changing the climate and how that is increasing extreme weather events and driving sea-level rises.
The authors said it was ‘virtually certain’ that heatwaves ‘have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions’.
They also said a rise in sea levels approaching two metres by the end of this century ‘cannot be ruled out’, while the Arctic is likely to be ‘practically sea ice-free’ in September at least once before 2050.
If temperatures continue to rise, there could be devastating effects here on Earth, including a dramatic loss of sea-life, an ice-free Arctic and more regular ‘extreme’ weather
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