A massive heatwave has gripped Western European countries and caused severe heat warnings in several parts of Spain, where the weather condition is forecast to last until Sunday.
As hot air from Africa travels north, Spain is sweltering under suffocating temperatures, which are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius in some regions of the country.
”People like to stay in the swimming pool, river or somewhere with air conditioners on. There are no other solutions. Some even go to shopping malls to stay away from the heat,” said a local resident.
Even the night only brings a little relief, as Spain’s state weather agency warns of so-called ”tropical nights”.
”The most annoying thing is not being able to rest. You can’t sleep well at nights because you’d always feel hot and wake up. It’s even more difficult for old people and those who are sick,” said another resident.
Most of the 50 provinces in Spain are now on alert, with the level in Madrid elevated to orange, the second highest. Temperatures in the city are even expected to peak over the weekend with a potential to hit 42C, which is 10 degrees above the average normal for June.
In 2003, tens of thousands of people died across Europe during a record-breaking heatwave. According to experts, the lethal effects come on suddenly and escalate quickly, but a heatwave can also claim lives days after it is over.
”It has a delay of one, two or three days, meaning that if temperatures increase today, the rates of mortality will start to increase tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or three days from today. So if a heatwave lasts for three or four days, you will see an accumulated impact of the increase in mortality for three or four days after it’s gone,” said Julio Diaz Jimenez, a senior scientist at National School of Health, Carlos III Health Institute.
Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters are battling a massive wildfire in Spain’s Catalonia region. Officials believe the fire started when farm manure self-ignited because of the extreme heat.