Winter Gritting Experts

Extreme Weather In Europe

June 26, 2019

Whilst the GRITIT weather desk naturally focuses on winter weather, summer conditions also merit the occasional mention when unusual episodes occur. In fact, an intense early summer heatwave is set to cook Europe this week, and it could be historic, potentially setting new records across a large swathe of the continent.

weather alert

When Is This Heatwave?

This continental heatwave is expected to peak between today and Friday, when an arc covering Spain to Poland is expected to see temperatures at least 11 to 17 degrees Celsius above normal.

Temperatures may well surge to at least 35 to 40 degrees Celsius over this area.

Some inland areas may well become even hotter, especially within cities where a "heat island" effect from asphalt and concrete increases temperatures.

In turn, this may melt the asphalt, so Europe may bring fleets of summer gritters into action.

Effect Of Extreme Weather

Such early summer heatwaves can be lethal, as large parts of the population may not have acclimatized to higher temperatures yes.

The elderly, the homeless and those without air conditioning are most susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Highest air temperatures are likely to occur across western and central Europe.

The extremes in Spain and France are expected to record temperatures of at 40 degrees Celsius and above for three straight days, Wednesday to Friday.

Spanish meteorologists have already characterized the episode as El infierno (hell is coming).

The mercury is predicted to approach 41 degrees Celsius in Madrid on Friday, which would be a new record.

Paris, along with most of the country, is in fact under orange alert for the heatwave, an alert system was instituted after the 2003 summer heatwave, which was blamed for 15,000 deaths.

Latest forecasts leaves little doubt that France will set a new national record around 45 degrees Celsius this Friday, passing the old mark of 44.1 Celsius, set in 2003.

In the UK, temperatures are not forecast to be as intense as on the continent, but some spots may see readings into the top 20s which is above normal for June.

Why Extreme Weather?

Part of the cause for this heatwave is two powerful high pressure systems.

One is above Greenland, and the other is over Germany.

As they link over coming days, they block a low pressure system to their south, which would draw cooler air over Europe.

Together, these zones of high pressure will steer a 'Spanish plume' over mainland Europe and the UK.

This hot air plume, sourced from deserts in Spain and the Sahara, will spill over into France, Britain and Germany.

The result can be a lot of falling records, severe thunderstorms at times, red Saharan dust particles and unusual migrants transported to the UK.

This early heatwave is the latest in a number of historic episodes of heat in recent years.

Just last summer, the continent saw relentless record temperatures coupled with unusually dry conditions. 

The hottest summers since 1500 AD in Europe have been: 2018, 2010, 2003, 2016, 2002.

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