Extreme temperatures recorded across northern hemisphere
Temperatures continued to reach extreme highs across many parts of the northern hemisphere on Monday, with the mercury
in parts of Italy poised to hit 45C on Tuesday and wildfires raging in Greece and Spain signalling the latest fierce warning of the effects of the climate crisis.
In Italy, where temperatures later in the week could push close to the European record of 48.8C, set in the Sicilian town of
Floridia in August 2021, Italians were warned to brace themselves for “the most intense heatwave of the summer and also
one of the most intense of all time”.
As heatwaves engulfed the globe, temperatures in California’s Death Valley, often among the hottest places on Earth,
approached a world record on Sunday after reaching 53.3C.
In a stark warning to world leaders earlier on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, wrote on Twitter: “In many parts of the world, today is predicted to be the hottest day on record. And these
records have already been broken a few times this year. Heatwaves put our health and lives at risk. The #ClimateCrisis is not
a warning. It’s happening. I urge world leaders to act now.”
Italy’s health ministry said on Monday that 23 Italian cities, including Rome, Florence, Bologna, Bari, Catania, Cagliari, Palermo and Turin, would be on “red alert” by Wednesday, a measure that means the heat is so intense, it poses a threat to the health of the entire population, not just children and elderly people.
Temperatures in Rome, which is packed with tourists, are poised to climb to 42C or 43C on Tuesday.
"This is exceptional heat,” said Carlo Cacciamani, the chief of Italy’s national meteorological and climatology agency. “We
are expecting days of above 40C and this is already a strong anomaly. This type of situation is occurring more frequently than
it did in the past.”
Meanwhile, wildfires raging close to seaside resorts south of Athens have destroyed untold numbers of homes and cars.
In Spain, a wildfire that started on Saturday on the Canary island of La Palma continued to burn out of control on Monday,
although authorities said weaker winds and cooler temperatures in the area were aiding the firefighters’ efforts. The blaze
has burned 4,600 hectares (11,300 acres) of mostly woody hill land and 20 houses and buildings.
Spokesperson Rubén del Campo of Spain’s Aemet weather agency said an anticyclone was pushing a hot mass of air from
Africa towards Spain and other Mediterranean countries. The agency predicts that with the heat and dry air, the risk of wildfires will soar.
Research published last week said there were 61,672 heat-related deaths last summer, the hottest recorded in Europe.
The mortality rate was highest in Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. A road worker died of a heat-related illness in Milan