An unusually early heatwave in Spain, which has been sizzling residents since the weekend, spread to the centre and north-east of the country on Wednesday.
For the capital Madrid, the national weather service AEMET warned of 39 to 40 degrees Celsius, in Zaragoza it could even reach 45 degrees on Saturday. The forecast for the popular holiday island of Mallorca was 36 degrees.
At the same time, temperatures in the south, which had been particularly affected so far, dropped only slightly: In Seville, 39 degrees was expected, in Córdoba 41 degrees. In the past few days, temperatures in Andalusia had even risen to 43 degrees.
The authorities advised people to drink plenty of water, to eat only light meals, to stay out of the sun for long periods of time, to avoid physical exertion and to consult a doctor at the first sign of heatstroke. The heatwave could subside at the weekend, but that is not certain, AEMET stressed.
Combined with severe drought, the heat also increases the risk of forest and bush fires. Since the beginning of the year, more than 19,000 hectares of forest have burned. That is about twice as much as the average for the same period from 2006 to 2021, the state television station RTVE reported, citing data from the European Earth observation system Copernicus.
According to a report in the newspaper El País, hot spells are on the rise in Spain. They start earlier in the year, are longer, the temperatures are higher and affect more and more parts of the country at the same time.
Already in May, the south of Spain suffered from an early heatwave with up to 41 degrees. 'Summer eats spring,' the newspaper headlined at the time.
The absolute record was measured last August in Montoro in Andalusia: 47.4 degrees. Experts attribute this to man-made climate change.
Extreme temperatures in France
France is also facing a heat wave with temperatures of up to 40 degrees locally, after which severe weather threatens parts of the country at the weekend.
According to the weather service Météo France on Wednesday, the highest temperatures are expected between Thursday and Saturday, when it will be over 20 degrees even at night. In Paris, temperatures of 38 degrees were expected for Saturday.
As in Spain, the authorities called on the population to protect themselves and drink plenty of fluids. There were announcements in the suburban train stations in Paris to carry enough water to drink and also to watch out for fellow passengers.
Fires continued to break out in the south of France, with the prefecture of Lozère announcing on Wednesday that 120 firefighters continued to tackle a fire that had broken out the day before in the area of Mas-Saint-Chély. A country road was closed, and 70 hectares of forest was destroyed by the flames.
Although the firefighters brought the fire under control in the meantime, the danger of a new outbreak is great, they said.
BFMTV reported that several fire-fighting planes were used. The fire brigade was able to protect five houses in one village that were threatened by the flames.
During the heatwave, many residents in Paris have to deal with a strike by rubbish collectors. In 10 city districts, the bins have remained unemptied since Monday and hundreds of tons of rubbish have piled up on the pavements.
According to the city, a solution to the situation is being worked on. Rubbish collection drivers are demanding an adjustment of their wages because of the strong rate of inflation.