The northern hemisphere is suffocating at the peak of heat waves

The fire in Greece and Canada, the oven in Italy, Spain or the United States: the northern hemisphere is suffocating and burning under the heat waves which are expected to intensify on Tuesday while China and Japan are also experiencing temperature records.

After “Cerbère”, it is the heat wave “Charon”, named after the smuggler of the Underworld, which envelops the northern Mediterranean coast.

In Greece, firefighters experience a second “difficult day” in their fight on Tuesday against several forest fires despite an improvement in threatened seaside areas near Athens.

The most violent of these disasters is located in the forest of Dervenohoria 50 km north of the capital where 140 firefighters operate supported by six water bombers and a helicopter. France announced the dispatch of two firefighting planes on Tuesday and, according to Athens, two Italian planes are to follow.

In Italy, 20 cities are placed on red alert, from Bolzano at the foot of the Alps to Palermo in Sicily, via Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Cagliari.

The mercury could exceed 40°C in the “Eternal City” – the previous record is 40.5°C and dates from August 2007. At 2 p.m., it was 39°C there.

“I knew it would be hot, but not this hot. We have air conditioning in our Airbnb, so we’re going to take a long break this afternoon,” testified Emily, a 24-year-old British tourist visiting Rome.

Early Tuesday afternoon, the highest temperature recorded in Italy, which holds the heat record for continental Europe, with 48.8°C measured in Sicily on August 11, 2021, was 44°C at Ragusa, in this same region.

Antoinette Douce, a 42-year-old French accounting assistant, preferred to leave the Italian capital for the seaside.

“Instead of visiting the interior of Rome, we said to ourselves ‘we’re going to come and get some fresh air and enjoy the sea’. There is the right air, frankly it’s great, ”she told AFPTV on Fregene beach, an hour’s drive away.

Young and old are the most at risk and authorities had to take special precautionary measures to protect them from the furnace.

“We don’t make the children play sports and we alternate, three days at the sea, three days in the forest,” Morgana Cucca, the manager of a center in Lanusei, Sardinia, told AFP.

Alerts in Spain

The south of Spain is also crushed by extreme heat.

Several regions were placed on red alert on Tuesday due to the “extreme danger” induced by the heat wave, while firefighters continue to fight a fire that ravaged 3,500 hectares in the Canary archipelago.

At noon, it was already 41.7 degrees in the province of Girona, in Catalonia.

Even Alpine Switzerland is hit by these exceptional conditions. More than 200 people threatened by a major forest fire have thus been evacuated in the south of the country due to a fire declared on Monday in a forest above the village of Bitsch.

According to Robert Vautard, director of the Pierre-Simon Laplace Institute, which specializes in climate science, if there is no climatic connection between the different regions of the world, climate change is fueling and reinforcing extreme weather phenomena everywhere. on the planet.

“For Southern Europe, for example, it is a very powerful anticyclone which, combined with weak winds, remains static and blocks disturbances. These high pressures trap warm air causing temperatures to rise. This is fed by southerly winds on the western flank which bring up scorching air masses from the Sahara,” he told AFP.

Megafires in Canada

In the United States, the weather services observe an “oppressive” heat wave in the south and forecast several temperature records.

In California’s famous Death Valley, one of the hottest places on earth, the thermometer read 52°C on Sunday.

Several very violent fires in the south of the state led to the evacuation of the population. The largest, Rabbit Fire, burned some 3,200 hectares.

The capital of Arizona, Phoenix, chained an 18th day above 43 ° C on Monday, equaling its record with another 45 ° C in the afternoon.

Several states are threatened by severe weather, according to the National Weather Service.

In Canada, more than ten million hectares have already burned this yearwith 882 fires still active on Monday, including 579 considered out of control, explained the Interservice Center for Forest fires of Canada (CIFFC).

Two firefighters died fighting these megafires, authorities said.

Heatstroke in Japan and China

Japan issued heat stroke alerts on Monday for 32 of its 47 prefectures, which are experiencing temperatures close to the all-time high of 41.1°C reached in 2018.

“Clearly the climate has changed. Before, the temperature (in Yamanashi prefecture, near Tokyo) never reached 30°. Now, we can easily reach them”, regrets Tomoya Abe, 50, returning from a stay at the campsite to flee his apartment in the capital “where the temperature can rise to 37°”.

This country is also facing torrential rains that have killed at least eight people.

China on Sunday broke a record for mid-July, with 52.2 ° C in the arid region of Xinjiang.

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