Today in Security - European Heat Wave

Today in Security: European Heat Wave

​​Europe's record-breaking heatwave is forecast to intensify further today, with authorities on high alert as temperatures threaten to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104​F) in some parts of the continent. According to various media reports, the high temperatures have already claimed the lives of three people, and possibly more.

The intense heat prompted traffic restrictions in France, sparked forest fires in Spain, and fanned debate in Germany over public nudity as sweltering residents stripped down, Al Jazeera reports.

Meteorologists blame a blast of hot air from northern Africa for the heat this week, which has already set new records in Europe for June. It is expected that by Friday the heat wave will reach near or above 40C in France, Spain, and Greece.

In Spain on Wednesday, hundreds of firefighters and soldiers battled to put out a forest fire that erupted in Torre del Espanol in the northeastern region of Catalonia. The worst is expected on Friday in Spain, when 33 out of 50 provinces face extreme temperatures, which could reach 44C​ (111F) in Girona.

In France, temperatures unprecedented for their timing and intensity were expected to reach at least 39C in over two-thirds of the country, according to local weather services. French health officials said the effect of the extreme heat was starting to be felt, with an increase in weather-related calls to emergency medical services. 

Some French schools were expected to close on Thursday and Friday while several cities—including Paris—restricted traffic to limit a build-up of air pollution. France is seeking to be proactive around messaging and services during the severe heat, ​learning from a 2003 heatwave that claimed the lives of approximately 15,000 people in France. 

In Germany, a local weather agency said Wednesday a preliminary reading showed it reached 38F in Coschen near the Polish border. The new record was slightly higher than the previous national record for June set in 1947 in southwestern Germany. 

Read more about resilience in the face of extreme weather here. ​