Europe Experiences Repeated Heatwaves and the Consequences Are Disastrous

Europe
Courtesy of Funk Dooby (Flickr CC0)

In Western Europe, people are dealing with extreme heat and drought consequences. Fires prompted evacuations in France, and Italian farmers lost up to 80% of their harvest. After days of fighting fires in the Southwestern France Gironde region, firefighters noticed a slowdown on Thursday afternoon.

Despite very low humidity and high temperatures, the collective effort of various resources kept the fire from expanding much during the day, said Marc Vermeulen, head of firefighting for Gironde. However, the situation is still quite problematic. By Thursday afternoon, 7,400 hectares of forest were destroyed outside the city, and 10,000 evacuees were relocated.

Martin Guesperau, the deputy commissioner for defense and security at the Nouvelle-Aquitaine prefecture, said the blaze’s 40-kilometer perimeter requires a lot of personnel. Other EU countries may send resources to France through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which has been activated. German firefighters have arrived, and Romanian firefighters are expected to arrive later tonight. Poland and Austria will send firefighters and vehicles tomorrow. In total, there will be 361 firefighters and 101 cars, Guesperau said. Firefighting efforts will also include two Italian planes arriving on Friday, in addition to four planes sent from Sweden and Greece today, Guesperau added.

During a Thursday visit to Hostens, the site of this year’s Gironde blazes, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne emphasized the benefits of European solidarity. It has been a rough summer for fires in France, which have raged across the South and Southwestern Europe regions, as well as Normandy and Brittany, further north than usual. In Italy, farmers have lost 80% of their harvest this year due to severe weather anomalies, according to the Coldretti farming association.

Europe
Courtesy of André Bessa (Flickr CC0)

According to Coldretti, flooding and landslides have resulted from the fact that the soil could not absorb any rain in recent storms. Hail seriously damaged more crops than other climatic events. According to the farming association, the damage in Malaga, Spain, amounts to 6 billion euros ($6.2 billion), equaling 10% of Italy’s annual agricultural production. Spain’s national weather agency, AEMET, has issued a heat alert across the country, including Spain. On Thursday, areas near the French border in Northeastern Spain were the most severely affected.

AEMET says temperatures will rise to up to 104F or 40C. Spain’s Northeastern and Southern regions are expected to register 104F on Friday. According to UK fire services, London has a dry tinderbox environment in light of the British capital’s firefighters battling a dramatic rise in grass fires this summer.

During the first week of August, 340 grass, garbage, and open land fires were extinguished by firefighters from the 42 grass fires the same week last year, according to London Fire Brigade. The Brigade asks Londoners not to have barbecues in public areas or on balconies and to dispose of trash and extinguish their cigarettes properly. Beginning Thursday, parts of England and Wales face an amber extreme heat warning from the UK’s Met Office.

The statement said temperatures are expected to peak Friday and Saturday and reach 86 to 95F or the low-to-mid 30 degrees Celsius.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

CNN: Europe reels as repeated heatwaves cause chaos; by Jack Guy
FLIPBOARD: Europe reels as repeated heatwaves cause chaos; by Jack Guy
Fox55: Europe reels as repeated heatwaves cause chaos; by Patrik Stollarz

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Funk Dooby’s Pixabay Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of André Bessa’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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