Europe sizzles as heat wave spreads across continent

Children play next to a water atomizer on a central square in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photo by Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images.

FRANCE — Europe’s scorching heat wave expanded across the continent Saturday, with people from Britain to the Balkans sweltering under abnormally high temperatures after a record-breaking week.

France is expecting temperatures of 39 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts on Saturday, a day after it shattered its record mark multiple times in one day.

Spain, which is dealing with the aftermath of a wildfire that tore through 10,000 acres of forest in the country’s northeast Friday, is bracing for temperatures of up to 42 degrees, according to its national meteorological body AEMET. The country is still affected by “a mass of tropical wind coming from Africa,” the agency said.

And the UK saw its hottest day of the year by some distance, with the mercury rising to 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 Fahrenheit) and threatening the country’s hottest-ever June mark of 35.6 degrees, set in 1976.

The hot weather is hitting sporting events across Europe, including the first-ever Major League Baseball game to be played in London. In a sign of how unusual the June heat wave is, organizers at Lord’s Cricket Ground in the city even allowed spectators at the World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand to remove their jackets at the pavilion.

At Glastonbury, revelers ditched the mud-proof boots usually associated with Britain’s most famous music festival — and showers at the event were closed to preserve water at the Worthy Farm site.

The continent has been baking in the heat all week, with cities springing into action to prevent it from turning fatal.

French authorities have taken a number of radical steps this week to prevent a repeat of the tragic consequences of the 2003 heat wave that left around 14,000 people dead. Around 4,000 schools were closed in the country Friday and the opening hours of parks and public swimming pools have been extended.

Paris activated its heat emergency plan last weekend, put together in the aftermath of the 2003 heat wave. Cooling rooms were opened in some municipal buildings and mist showers were installed in the streets in the city, which is seeing temperatures of over 35 degrees Saturday.

Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic all recorded their highest-ever June temperatures during the week.

And the heat is set to move east in the coming days, with countries including Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary preparing for marks in the mid-30s at the start of next week.

Climate scientists have warned that heat waves such as this one are becoming more frequent and increasingly severe because of the climate crisis. Météo-France, the country’s meteorological body, said the frequency of such events is expected to double by 2050.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.