Punishing heatwave raises concern: 'Records are about to fall'

·Environment Editor
·4-min read

“An immense number of records are about to fall” is the dire warning issued by a leading meteorologist, as the Northern Hemisphere swelters amid a blistering heatwave.

On Thursday, France experienced its earliest 40-degree day on record, according to Meteo France, leading Scott Duncan to issue the prediction.

“This is just the beginning of one of the most profound heatwaves in French history,” Mr Duncan wrote.

A child tries to cool down under water mist.
France set a record high in 2019, and experienced a severe heatwave in 2020 (pictured). Source: Reuters

Signs of the extreme weather can be observed across France, with the Loire River at Ancenis-Saint-Gereon, already cracked and dry.

There are concerns for the elderly, who are most vulnerable to high temperatures, and nurses in care homes are preparing to keep occupants hydrated.

Children play in water, while a small dog walks by.
In Nice, locals tried to stay cool in a public fountain on Thursday. Source: Reuters

Could France's highest temperature be topped?

Frances's hottest ever temperature is 46 degrees, recorded on June 28, 2019, in the southern village of Verargues.

While this number is unlikely to be exceeded, Weatherzone meteorologist Angus Konta, believes many new local records could be reached.

Parts of southwest France and southern Spain are expected to reach temperatures between 38 and 40 degrees on Friday.

"As we go into Saturday, that's when we expect to see the hottest day for France," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"Large parts of western and central France [will see] temperatures over 38 degrees, and Bourdeaux could experience temperatures above 40 degrees. Paris itself is expected to be in the mid 30s."

The Loire River near the Anjou-Bretagne bridge has dried up. The ground is cracked.
The Loire River near the Anjou-Bretagne bridge has dried up. Source: Reuters

As climate change continues to impact global weather events, Mr Konta has observed records continuing to fall.

He has observed a trend of heatwaves becoming more intense and starting earlier, with France hit particularly hard in 2019.

Spain fighting several bushfires during heatwave

In Spain, a combination of hot weather, wind and thunderstorms have ignited bushfires in the eastern part of the country.

Hundreds of firefighters, 120 trucks and 19 aircraft are tackling three blazes that have burned more than 1600 hectares since Wednesday.

A plane drops water over a bushfire in Spain.
Water bombers in Spain are working to bring bushfires under control. Source: Reuters

The heatwave has been taking a toll on both humans and wildlife. In Madrid, dehydrated and undernourished baby birds have been falling to the ground as they try to fledge from their nests early to escape the heat inside their nesting hollows.

Millions of Americans warned to stay indoors amid heatwave

It’s not just Europe that is being impacted by the heatwave, the North, Central and South America have also been baked.

This week more than 100 million Americans were urged to stay indoors due to health concerns relating to extreme heat and humidity.

At least 2000 cattle, which were housed in feedlots across Kansas, dropped dead due to soaring temperatures, high humidity and little wind.

People shelter under umbrellas on a California street.
Residents in Calexico, California, swelter amid an early heatwave. Source: Getty

On Tuesday alone, the United States experienced six natural disasters in a single day, as climate change continues to make extreme weather patterns more severe and frequent.

Heatwave leading to disease in India

In India, the onset of an early heatwave is believed to have triggered an escalation of diseases including dengue, malaria, and typhoid.

A man in Jacobabad unpacks water bottles.
Jacobabad is one of the world's hottest cities. Source: Reuters

The Pakistani city of Jacobabad is one of the world’s hottest, and it hit a punishing 51 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

The heatwave has led pregnant women in the region to fear complications with their births.

A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2020 found there was a significant increase in stillbirths and premature deliveries due to extreme heat.

With Reuters

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