The proliferation of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming according to scientists, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.
“A new heat wave, the second this year, is setting in in Western Europe. It mainly affects Spain and Portugal but is expected to intensify and spread,” said Clare Nullis, door-to-door manager in Geneva. word of the World Meteorological Organization.
She warned of the critical situation of “very, very dry soils” and the impact of temperatures on the glaciers of the Alps: “It’s a very bad season for glaciers”, she insisted, a little more a week after the collapse in Italy of a huge block of the Marmolada glacier, weakened by global warming, which killed eleven people.
In Spain, temperatures again crossed the 40°C mark in a large part of the western half of the country and in particular in usually temperate zones. 43.3°C were recorded in Cordoba (south) at 3:00 p.m. GMT then 43.5°C in Ribadavia (Galicia, north-west) at 5:42 p.m. GMT, according to the weather agency (Aemet).
In Mérida (southeast) it was logically even hotter: 43.9°C. The peak of this heat wave is expected to last through Thursday.
In Madrid, this heat was extremely difficult to bear in the non-air-conditioned offices.
“It’s hell,” sighed, sweat on the brow, Dania Arteaga, a 43-year-old Venezuelan, between two squeegee strokes to clean the windows of a store in the center of the Spanish capital.
Joaquín Abad, a 46-year-old plumber, has come to “shorten his working days” to endure the heat which “is getting worse year by year”.
Favored by these exceptional temperatures, several fires were raging in the country, one of which had already burned 2,500 hectares of vegetation in Extremadura (west).
According to the government, between January 1 and July 3, 70,354 hectares of forest went up in smoke in Spain, almost double (87%) the average of the last ten years.
– resumption of fires in Portugal –
In Portugal, fanned by scorching temperatures and violent winds, the forest fires which had hit the center of the country this weekend flared up again on Tuesday, causing the evacuation of several villages and mobilizing more than a thousand firefighters.
According to images from local television, firefighters and residents were trying to slow the advance of the flames which threatened several localities in the municipalities of Leiria, Pombal, Ourém or Alvaizere, just over a hundred kilometers north of Lisbon.
According to the website of the National Civil Protection Authority, five outbreaks in this same region mobilized some 1,200 firefighters, more than 300 vehicles and a dozen planes or helicopters.
The risk of fire had already prompted the authorities to close the very touristy Sintra natural park, west of Lisbon, while the mercury rose to 43.1 degrees in the center of the country.
“The weather forecast for the next few days remains extremely worrying for the risk of fires,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa reiterated on Tuesday, as temperatures were expected to exceed 40 degrees in much of the territory.
The thermometer rose to 43.1 degrees Celsius near the town of Abrantes (district of Santarém).
– Ministers mobilized in France –
In France, where this episode of high heat is expected to last at least until the beginning of next week, temperatures were between 36 and 38 degrees, or even 39 degrees, on Tuesday on the Atlantic coast, the South-West and the lower valley. of the Rhone.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called on the government to mobilize in the face of the “very rapid impact” of the heat “on the state of health of the populations, in particular of the most vulnerable people”.
The high temperatures are then expected to spread to other parts of western or central Europe.
In the United Kingdom, the weather agency (Met Office) issued an orange alert before a wave of “extreme heat” from Sunday with temperatures that could exceed 35 degrees. The British have also been called by their water companies to save every drop, in particular by heating only the amount strictly necessary for their cup of tea.