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Europe heat wave scorches Italy, France

Published July 18, 2023last updated July 18, 2023

The high-pressure weather system known as Charon will continue to bring extreme heat to southern Europe. The UN has warned that the overall trend of extreme heat is not decreasing.

A thermometer reading showing 44 degrees Celcius in Milan
Italian authorities issue health warnings as some areas face the possibility of record breaking temperaturesImage: Piaggesi/Fotogramma/ROPI/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The world needs to prepare for 'more intense heat waves,' the UN has warned
  • Extremely high temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius felt across Italy
  • Parts of southern France hit record high temperatures 
  • Firefighters are battling a wildfire near Athens, Greece
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July 18, 2023

This live blog is now closed

For more DW coverage of heat waves around the world, click here 

Skip next section Several temperature records set in in southern France
July 18, 2023

Several temperature records set in in southern France

Local temperature records were set at several monitoring stations in the south of France, including in the Alps and Pyrenees mountains.

Meteo France said a record 29.5 degrees Celsius (85 Farhenheit) had been reached in the Alpine ski resort of Alpe d'Huez, which sits at an altitude of 1,860 metres, while 40.6C had been recorded for the first time in Verdun in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

The new heat records were also set Aups (38.6C) and Vauvenargues (37.3C) in the far south of the country, as well as in Renno in the hills of Corsica (38.3C).

In 2019, France recorded an all-time record of 46C in the southern town of Verargues. 

Skip next section Rome nears record high temperatures
July 18, 2023

Rome nears record high temperatures

The Italian capital city of Romecontinues to bake in the current heatwave. Temperatures in the city reached 41 degrees Celsius at midday on Tuesday, according to data from the Italian Air Force's meteorological service.

Reuters news agency reported that a new temperature record of 41.8 degrees Celsius (107.2 Fahrenheit) had been set, citing the weather service of the Lazio region. 

The new high mark was reported by a weather station in the eastern suburbs of the Italian capital. If confirmed, it would shatter the previous record of 40.7 Celsius was set in June 2022. 

Meanwhile, the high-pressure weather system, known as Charon, named after the ferryman across the river to Hades, will continue to bring extreme heat to the region. 

The Italian Ministry of Health declared the highest heat alert level for 23 majot cities on Wednesday.

Officials warn that the extreme heat could harm healthy people, not just the vulnerable. In Rome, the Civil Defence Department sent volunteers into the streets to help people struggling with the heat. At busy tourist attractions like the Colosseum, they handed out water bottles. 

In parts of the southern Italian regions of Apulia, Basilicata and Calabria, the 40-degree mark was reached. On Sicily, 43 degrees was measured in certain regions and 44 degrees in parts of the southern Sardinia.

A Europe-wide record of 48.8 degrees Celsius was registered in Sicily in August 2021.

Italy swelters in European heat wave

Skip next section France and Italy send firefighting planes to Greece
July 18, 2023

France and Italy send firefighting planes to Greece

Italy and France are each sending two firefighting planes to Greece to help it cope with wildfires burning on multiple fronts around Athens.

The planes and their teams of firefighters are part of an EU civil protection mechanism, and they will join some 30 Romanian firefighters already stationed in Greece as part of a seasonal EU fire program, European officials said.

Greece also activated an rapid mapping evaluation system, which uses EU satellite data to assess fire damage, for the three large wildfires that burned outside Athens for a second day. 

A second heatwave is expected Thursday, with temperatures as high as 44C (111F) is expected in central and southern parts of the country by the end of the week.

A wildfire burns in Saronida, Greece
Flames approach a house as a wildfire burns in Saronida, near AthensImage: STELIOS MISINAS/REUTERS
Skip next section Paris Olympics 2024 organizers watching weather trends
July 18, 2023

Paris Olympics 2024 organizers watching weather trends

The head of the Paris 2023 Olympic Games said weather forecasts were being monitored closely as a heat wave sends temperatures soaring in southern Europe.

"We are remaining very, very vigilant on temperature forecasts," said Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, without providing further details.

France has managed to escape the worst of the scorching temperatures so far.

The summer games will take place in Paris between 26 July and 11 August.

Skip next section Spain on alert for 'extreme' weather danger
July 18, 2023

Spain on alert for 'extreme' weather danger

Spain's weather agency has issued hot weather red alerts for three regions because of the "extreme" danger presented by the high temperatures.

The country's weather agency, AEMET, predicted highs of between 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) and 42 degrees across much of the country. 

The high temperatures are expected to be more severe in the eastern regions of Catalonia, Aragon and the Balearic Islands.

Authorities advised people to remain indoors during the hottest times of the day and to remain hydrated.

Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters were battling a wildfire in wooded areas of the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. The fire has scorched 3,500 hectares (8,700 acres) of land and has destroyed some 20 homes and buildings while forcing the evacuation of 4,000 people.

Skip next section Get ready for 'more intense heat waves,' UN warns
July 18, 2023

Get ready for 'more intense heat waves,' UN warns

The world needs to prepare for increasingly intense heat waves, the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Tuesday as much of the northern hemisphere sweats through soaring temperatures.

"These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world needs to prepare for more intense heat waves," said John Nairn, a senior extreme heat advisor at the WMO.

Asked about the connection between the current heat wave and climate change, he said, "These are not your normal weather systems of the past."

The heat wave is set to intensify this week, causing overnight temperatures to surge. The temperatures could lead to an increased risk of heart attack and death, the WMO said in a statement.

"Whilst most of the attention focuses on daytime maximum temperatures, it is the overnight temperatures which have the biggest health risks, especially for vulnerable populations," the WMO said.

A blood pressure monitor and hospital bracelet are wrapped around a two-year-old's legs as he receives treatment for heat exhaustion
High temperatures during the day — and night — will lead to health problems for vulnerable people like children and the elderlyImage: Kaylee Greenlee Beal/REUTERS
Skip next section Switzerland: Firefighters tackling large fire in Alps
July 18, 2023

Switzerland: Firefighters tackling large fire in Alps

Swiss emergency services said around 150 firefighters have been battling a large fire in the Alps, which has forced more than 200 people to evacuate their homes.

The fire broke out in a forested area above the village of Bitsch in the Wallis region of southern Switzerland.

"A major intervention system was quickly put in place. It is still fighting the rapidly spreading fire," Wallis police said in a statement.

Four small hamlets with 205 people were evacuated according to local broadcaster RTS. There have been no reports of injuries or damage to property.

Around 100 hectares of forest are thought to have been affected.

Skip next section Siestas in Germany — doctors recommend mid-day break
July 18, 2023

Siestas in Germany — doctors recommend mid-day break

A group of doctors in Germany has called for the introduction of a midday nap to help deal with rising temperatures which impacts productivity in the summer months.

Doctors from the Association of Physicians of German Public Health Departments (BVÖGD) believe the work day could be pushed to earlier in the morning to avoid a slowdown later in the day.

Read more about that story here.

Skip next section Dry and windy conditions fan Greek wildfires near Athens
July 18, 2023

Dry and windy conditions fan Greek wildfires near Athens

Wildfires burning near Athens have forced the evacuation of thousands in seaside resorts, while also closing highways.

Strong winds have spurred on the fires that have been tearing through dry forested areas.

The army and police along with volunteer rescuers managed to free people sheltering in their homes, while firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames.

Fire Service spokesman Yiannis Artopios said the strong, changing winds and difficult terrain in which both fires broke out were slowing efforts

"The conditions are changing constantly and this has to be matched by our response. We have ordered multiple evacuations," he said.

According to local officials, water-dropping planes and helicopters tackled the flames near Lagonisi, situated around 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the capital.

A second large wildfire broke out in a wooded area near the resort town of Loutraki, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Athens, where a children's summer camp and rehabilitation center for seniors were evacuated.

Greek evacuations as southern Europe swelters

Skip next section Warnings of extreme temperatures in southern Europe
July 18, 2023

Warnings of extreme temperatures in southern Europe

People during a hot day in Rome
Authorities have warned people to stay out of the sun and remain hydrated as temperatures continue to soarImage: Giuseppe Lami/ANSA/Zuma Press/picture alliance

Predictions of record temperatures in parts of southern Europe as a heat wave continues scorching the continent prompted health authorities to issue warnings for people to remain hydrated and take shelter from the sun.

The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia are bracing for extremely high temperatures with predictions of the mercury reaching 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the European Space Agency.

Meanwhile, in Greece, firefighters have been battling wildfires in coastal towns near Athens which has forced residents from their homes. A blaze began in the village of Kouvaras, situated around 27 kilometers (17 miles) from the capital city.

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire burning in Saronida, near Athens, Greece
Wildfires near Athens have forced the evacuations of residents from some seaside towns in GreeceImage: Stelios Misinas/REUTERS

This has been no let-up for southern Spain where temperatures of 44.7 degrees Celcius were reported.

"The extreme weather ... is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies," said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Dangerous heat waves hit parts of Asia, US and Europe

kb/sms (AFP, Reuters)