Heatwaves and forest fires rip through Western Europe

Western European countries grappled with soaring temperatures over the weekend as an early heatwave swept parts of the continent.

Temperatures reached upwards of 40°C in parts of Spain and France over the weekend, marking an unusually early and intense heatwave according to the World Meteorological Organization.

“Although it is only mid-June, temperatures are more typical of those witnessed in July or August. In some parts of Spain and France, temperatures are more than 10°C higher than the average for this time of year. This is combined with drought in many parts of Europe,” the organization said.

Indeed, public events in the Gironde area around Bordeaux were banned from Friday afternoon until the end of the heatwave. Officials also prohibited any indoor events at venues without air conditioning.

Meanwhile, Spanish firefighters have been tackling wildfires in parts of Spain. Regional authorities said that forest fires burned through nearly 22,240 acres of land in the Sierra de la Culebra region on Friday.

In Italy, large stretches of the Po river have completely dried up, with locals able to walk through the middle of the riverbed in some areas.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had warned that heatwaves will become more frequent, and warmer seasons will become longer, at 1.5°C of global warming.

In turn, heatwaves will appear earlier in the year for more countries as a result of climate change.

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