A woman cools off at a water fountain amid high temperatures, in Rome, Italy, 17 July 2023. EFE/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

Southern Europe braces for record highs as heatwave Charon sweeps continent

Rome/Madrid, Jul 17 (EFE) – A fierce heatwave is expected across much of southern Europe as the Charon anticyclone sweeps across the continent raising temperatures to record highs of 47 degrees on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

A woman sits under a parasol at the Lido beach on the river Danube in Belgrade, Serbia, 17 July 2023.  EFE/EPA/ANDREJ CUKIC

Italy has issued a red weather alert for 16 cities amid a second heat dome sweeping across southern Europe, with Spain, France and Greece bracing for record highs.

Forecasts also point to temperatures reaching all-time highs in Rome in the coming days with up to 42 degrees, 1.3 more than the previous record recorded in June last year with 40.7 degrees, according to local media.

Despite the sweltering heat, downtown Rome was buzzing on Monday amid crowded streets thronged with tourists trying to survive the extreme heat.

“We are coping with our water, our little hat, a shower and a beer, of course,” Carmen, a Spanish tourist who preferred to share only her first name, told EFE.

A man sunbathes at the Lido beach on the river Danube in Belgrade, Serbia, 17 July 2023.  EFE/EPA/ANDREJ CUKIC

Umbrellas, bottles of water, sunscreen and patience have become key to putting up with the long queues to access the main tourist attractions in the capital.

Alberto, another Spanish tourist, says his “cap, a fan and lots of water” are essential.

For the time being, no monuments or historic sites in Rome, Florence or Venice have been shuttered.

“Tropical nights” were also expected with thermometers that will not drop below 20 degrees in large parts of the country and high levels of humidity that will make sleeping more difficult, authorities warned.

In the alpine areas of Italy’s north, a fiery trail hailing from the Sahara desert could push the mercury up to 28-30 degrees at 1,500 meters altitude.

Amid the intense heatwave, the Italian health ministry has activated a “heat code” plan by boosting services in outpatient clinics to deal with an expected spike in heat-related health issues.

In Spain, authorities are grappling with the third heat dome to strike the peninsula this summer, although the latest will have an “unusual” intensity with extreme highs of up to 44 degrees and tropical nights that will see temperatures of around 25 degrees in some Spanish cities, according to the Aemet meteorological agency.

A thermometer displays '42 degrees Celsius' in Rome, Italy, 17 July 2023. EFE/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

Warnings have been activated in more than half of Spain, particularly in the southern region of Andalusia where the provinces of Cordoba and Jaen have issued a red level of extreme risk with temperatures reaching up to 44 degrees.

In France, the weather service has activated an orange alert across the French Mediterranean coast, where temperatures could reach 40 degrees on Tuesday in the inland Provence region.

Over in the Balkans temperatures will reach 40 degrees or higher increasing the risk of fires and the health of citizens of Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia and Slovenia.

People cool off around a water fountain amid high temperatures, in Rome, Italy, 17 July 2023. EFE/EPA/GIUSEPPE LAMI

The Montenegro interior ministry warned that record highs were expected and that a “tropical wave” could continue until 25 July.

Albanian authorities meanwhile have installed water tanks on the main streets in the capital to tackle dehydration among residents.

In Serbia, local media announced a “tropical 40 degrees” were expected in various parts of the country, with Belgrade expecting the mercury to reach 39 degrees amid calls on citizens to avoid exposure to the sun due to the high level of ultraviolet radiation.

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia were also reporting extreme temperatures of between 34 and 40 degrees amid a red weather alert issued in the Split tourist hotspot on the eastern shore of the Adriatic sea.

In Turkey, planes and helicopters were battling around 20 forest fires that broke out over the weekend in three provinces amid a scorching 38 degrees that on Monday could reach 40 degrees.EFE