As Western Europe enters its second heat wave in the last 30 days, extreme temperatures are expected to set records. UK residents can experience conditions none of them have ever seen as the temperature soars to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) or more, prompting officials to issue their first “severe heat” red warning on Monday and Tuesday.
Far south in Europe, in southwest France on Saturday, temperatures were approaching 108 Fahrenheit (42 Celsius), with the city of Biarritz smashing the highest temperature record. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s population, 45 million people, were affected by the red or orange heat alerts in the first heat wave ever recorded in France.
Hot, dry weather has caused several bushfires in Britain, Spain, Portugal and France over the past several days, leading to the fire season starting earlier than usual. London firefighters have dealt with, yes, London, more than 800 plant fires since the beginning of last month through July 12.
Two fires near the coastal town of Arcachon in the Gironde region of southwestern France have burned more than 24,000 acres since Tuesday. About 3,000 firefighters, aided by aircraft, are battling the blazes in southern France.
A pilot was killed Friday while working on a fire in northeastern Portugal when an Air Tractor AT-802AF Fire Boss crashed near the town of Torre de Moncorvo after it washed up in the Douro River.
Spain also operates several large fires that have burned tens of thousands of acres. In southern Andalusia, 3,000 people were evacuated after a fire broke out near the village of Mijas in Malaga province. About 200 firefighters supported by 18 aircraft were assigned to this accident.
The BBC’s weather forecaster, Ben Rich, explained that the current heat wave is caused by the jet stream turning north and separating part of it to form a low pressure region west of Portugal, a low region, with southerly winds pumping heat north to Western Europe including Spain, France and the Kingdom United.
Much of western Europe and southern UK is experiencing droughts ranging from warning to alert levels, according to the European Commission’s Drought Monitor. Dry soils allow for more surface heating and the result is record temperatures and below average vegetation moisture, resulting in large, highly controllable wildfires.
The video below is a summary of the current wildfires in Western Europe.