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All-time temperature records tumble in Europe, thousands evacuate as wildfires rage in France, Spain and Portugal

fires and thermal anomalies over europe july 12 2022 aqua modis

Record-breaking temperatures have engulfed parts of Europe for the second time since mid-June. Before the end of the week, temperatures are expected to reach the high 40s (°C). As a result, France, Britain, Portugal and Spain are on high alert over wildfires and public health.

The worst affected today were Spain and Portugal, where more than 20 wildfires were active.

Portugal’s Civil Protection commander, André Fernandes, said that multiple fires have caused the evacuation of more than 600 people. About 120 people needed medical treatment, with two people — one civilian and one firefighter — suffering serious injuries.1

Police are investigating the death of a woman whose charred body was found in a corn field after a small rural fire near Porto, which initial reports suggest could have been an accident.2

Water-dumping planes helped 1 300 firefighters combat the worst of the blazes in the nation’s central area, while another 1 000 worked to bring other fires under control.

Wildfires are also burning in France, where more than 800 firefighters battled two of them in southwest France, according to the regional emergency service. Together, they have destroyed more than 2 700 ha (6 670 acres) of land.

The fires began Tuesday, July 12 near the towns of Landiras and La Teste-de-Buch, and firefighters hadn’t been able to contain them by Wednesday morning, AP reports.

The biggest of the two fires is around the town of Landiras, south of Bordeaux, where roads have been closed and 500 residents evacuated.3

The other one is along the Atlantic Coast, close to the iconic “Dune du Pilat” – the tallest sand dune in Europe – located in the Arcachon Bay area, above which heavy clouds of dark smoke were seen rising in the sky.

That fire led to the preventive evacuation of 6 000 people from five surrounding campsites.

In Spain’s western region of Extremadura, firefighters evacuated a few hundred villagers overnight as a precaution and continued to battle a blaze that on Tuesday swept into Salamanca province in the region of Castile and Leon, burning more than 2 500 ha (6 180 acres) of land.

The blaze began on Monday due to a lightning strike, and will probably last several days, the head of the regional government of Extremadura, Guillermo Fernandez Vara, said.

Several wildfires have also swept across northern and central Italy as the country is experiencing the worst drought in 70 years.2

Near the northern city of Bolzano, firefighters were battling a blaze that broke out Tuesday afternoon and that has affected a large area of mixed forest and trees, according to emergency services.

Another wildfire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the central region of Tuscany, where two helicopters and six teams of firefighters were involved.

July 12 was an exceptionally hot day, especially for Galicia in NW Spain where the city of Ourense broke its all-time record of 42.6 °C (108.6 °F) when 43.2 °C (109.7 °F) was recorded. Remuino was even hotter with 43.7 °C (110.6 °F) registered by Meteo Galicia and Ribadavia with 43.5 °C (110.3 °F).

The most notable all-time record on July 13 was 46.3 °C (115.3 °F) registered at Lousa, Portugal. Other important July records were broken in Torres Vedras where 43.3 °C (109.9 °F) was registered, 41.4 °C (106.5 °F) in Lisboa Tapada da Ajuda and 42.5 °C (108.5 °F) in Rio Maior, according to the professional climatologist Maximiliano Herrera.

On July 14, the heat will spread through most of France and into southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary. By July 17, the worst-affected will be northern Portugal and Spain, western France and Britain.

July 19 will bring extremely high temperatures to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

A cold front is forecast to approach from the NE into Ireland and further into to SW Europe on July 24, bringing the end to the heatwave.

References:

1 Wildfires scorch parts of Europe amid extreme heat wave – AP – July 13, 2022

2 Extreme heat, wildfires blight southern Europe – EFE – July 13, 2022

3 Scorching heatwave sparks wildfires in Europe – Reuters – July 13, 2022

Featured image: NASA Aqua/MODIS + Fires and thermal anomalies (day and night) for July 12, 2022

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