Greece lives ” probably “ the longest heat wave on record in its history with temperatures expected above 44°C this weekend. 30,000 people have been sheltered for the night until Sunday on the tourist island of Rhodes where firefighters have been fighting a forest fire for five days.
“We are likely to experience a 16-17 day heat wave, which has never happened before in our country”Kostas Lagouvardos, the research director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens, told ERT television.
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All archaeological sites will continue to keep doors closed during the hottest hours. Tourists will only be allowed to enter the famous Acropolis in Athens until 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Temperatures of up to 45°C are expected for Sunday in the region of Thessaly (center).
46 new fires in 24 hours
“We need absolute vigilance […] because the difficult times have not passed”warned Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “We are facing a new heat wave” And “to a possible strengthening of the winds which have already been stoking several fires around the capital since Monday, he added.
In 24 hours, 46 new fires broke out in the country, according to firefighters. On the tourist island of Rhodes, where a forest fire has been raging for five days, more than 30 boats took part in an evacuation operation on Saturday. More than 1,500 people have already been evacuated to another beach, according to media reports.
Shelters in gymnasiums, schools, hotels…
Warned by SMS, the tourists tried to go to the beach with their suitcases. Some had strollers with children, while others were unable to contact their airline and missed their flights.
According to local authorities, some 30,000 people were able to leave the threatened areas by any means. There are tourists there but also residents who have taken refuge in gymnasiums, schools and hotel conference centers on the island to spend the night there. According to the television channel ERT tv, firefighters had to take refuge in the monastery of Ypseni, near Lardos.
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Towards the hottest month ever recorded on Earth?
July is on track to break the record for the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, not only since measurements were taken but also for “hundreds, if not thousands of years”, Nasa chief climatologist Gavin Schmidt told reporters. This is not just due to El Niño, the cyclic weather phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean and causes global temperatures to rise, he said.
In the United States, about 80 million people will experience temperatures of 41 ° C and more this weekend, alerted the American weather services (NWS). They could rise to more than 46 ° C in Phoenix, Arizona (southwest), which is currently experiencing its longest heat wave on record: Friday, the mercury exceeded 43 ° C for the 22nd day in a row.
On the surface of the sea, the mercury was 2 to 3 ° C above normal, the meteorological services announced on Saturday. As a reminder, the Mediterranean region has long been classified as a “hotspot” of climate change by scientists. The Italian islands, like Sardinia and Sicily, could exceed the continental record of 48.8°C, according to the latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). According to the European Drought Observatory, water tables in half of the Mediterranean region were already low in June.