Temperatures were climbing on Sunday as Europe braced for a blistering heatwave with the mercury set to hit 40 degrees Celsius as summer kicks in on the back of a wave of hot air from North Africa.
Europeans are set to bake in what forecasters are warning will likely be record-breaking temperatures for June with the mercury set to peak mid-week.
Hot and humid nights can be expected, officials say, with many issuing guidelines for surviving the scorcher, and local authorities and hospitals on high alert for a surge in cases of dehydration, heat-stroke and other weather-related conditions.
They are also warning that the extreme heat could bring on violent storms.
Spain’s AEMET weather agency issued a “yellow alert” for severe weather on Sunday, but said it expected the heat to peak later in the week with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius, particularly inland.
Britain’s MetOffice said it was particularly concerned that the heatwave could trigger “violent storms” and warned Britons to expect “hot, humid and unstable” weather.
In Germany, forecasters said they were expecting a week-long heatwave with temperatures that could break the 2015 record of 40.3 degrees, blaming it on a front of “warm air coming from the Sahara”.
And Meteo France also warned of a “hot, humid and unstable” weather front that could push the mercury up to 40 degrees from Tuesday in some parts of the country, including Paris. The authorities activated an action plan for children, the sick and elderly as well as for homeless people.
In Belgium, the Royal Meteorological Institute also issued a severe heat warning, saying it was expecting temperatures in the range of 34 to 35 degrees Celsius from Tuesday, with similar hot weather also expected in Switzerland.
Dutch officials issued a heat warning in seven of its 12 provinces Sunday.
Greece was expected to record blistering temperatures this weekend, with forecasters warning of highs of 39 degrees Celsius in some areas although they were seen falling earlier next week.
In the Balkans, soaring temperatures saw many people flocking to rivers, lakes and swimming pools to cool down last week, although a weekend of stormy weather helped take the edge off the heat.
This latest intense heatwave again shows the impact of global warming on the planet, and such weather conditions are likely to become more frequent, meteorologists said.