Wildfires rage in France and Spain amid heat wave, while the UK faces its hottest day ever

The Gironde region of southwestern France has seen its worst fires yet.

A total of 14,300 hectares (35,000 acres) of land have been burned, and 24,000 people have been evacuated from the region, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Gironde region said on Twitter.

Authorities have deployed 1,700 firefighters to battle the blaze. A spokesman for the fire and rescue service of the Gironde region said that since the start of the operation, 12 firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

In Spain, wildfires are burning in the central region of Castile and León and in the northern region of Galicia, Reuters reported. Firefighters have put out the blaze in Mijas, in the southeastern state of Malaga, and evacuees said they could return to their homes.

Rising temperatures in Portugal have worsened the drought that preceded the heat wave, according to data from the National Meteorological Institute. 96% of the mainland was suffering from severe or severe drought at the end of June.

‘The peak of strength’

Intense heat is expected to peak in Western Europe early this week.

Monthly low temperature records could be broken across France on Monday, according to the national weather agency. Météo-France has identified nine areas where the monthly low will be broken, including Rostrainen in Brittany, northwest France, where the record has stood since 1968.

In addition to the Gironde, Météo-France has issued a red warning for a total of 15 departments in the west and southwest regions, as temperatures are expected to reach 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday. Another 51 regions, including Paris, were placed under an orange alert, urging residents to stay indoors between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time.

“Given the high intensity expected today, it is unlikely that the mercury will drop sufficiently before the end of the day” to prevent these records from being broken, Meteo-France added.

Since May, France has seen only eight days where the average daily temperature was below the cumulative summer average. On the remaining 39 days, national daily averages were above the average temperature observed for the period 1991 to 2020, according to Meteo-France data.

Spain’s weather agency issued a severe heat warning on Sunday, Reuters reported. Temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) were forecast for northern Aragon, Navarre and La Rioja. The agency said the heat wave would end on Monday but warned that temperatures would be “normally high”.
EU Commission researchers say half of the country, including the UK, is at risk of drought. The Joint Research Center highlighted that the drought in much of Europe was “critical” as “a lack of rain in winter-spring … was exacerbated by heat waves in May and early June.”

Water supply is likely to be “disrupted” in the coming months, the report said.

Hottest day in UK history

The head of the United Kingdom's Met Office
Elsewhere in Europe, Britain is bracing itself for the “hottest day in UK history”, a senior weather official said. On Friday, the Met Office issued its first red warning for “extreme heat”.

Met Office chief executive Penelope Endersby said Monday could be the hottest day on record for the UK but Tuesday “is expected to be even hotter”.

“So tomorrow we will actually see temperatures of 40 degrees and above,” Endersby told BBC radio on Monday.

“It could be more than that, 41 is not on the cards. We’ve even got some 43s in the model but we’re hoping that’s not the case.”

Endersby said that while extreme temperatures are not expected after Tuesday, the Met Office will monitor the risk of drought in the coming months.

“We expect overnight temperatures to drop 10 or 12 degrees below what they were a few days ago,” she added. We see drought and rain, and we don’t see any significant rain.

Joseph Attaman, Jimmy Hutchen and Xiaofei Xu report from Paris. Zahid Mahmood and Sana Noor Haq report from London. CNN’s Renee Bertini, James Frater and Sharon Braithwaite reported for this post.

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