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Relief in sight for France after heat more typical of Death Valley breaks all-time high

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 30, 2019, 1:09:14 PM EDT


The extreme heat wave that is suspected of killing several people this week set an all-time high in France on Friday. Relief is on the horizon but not before one last blast of heat scorched much of western and central Europe on Sunday.

The highest temperature ever measured across France in the entirety of record keeping was set on Friday afternoon. Temperatures soared to 45.9 C (114.6 F) at Gallargues-le-Montueux in southeastern France, exceeding the nation's previous all-time record high of 44.1 C (111.4 F) at Conqueyrac on 12 August 2003.

A high near 46 C (115 F) is more typical of what is recorded in California's Death Valley in the United States this time of year. Parts of southeastern France were actually slightly hotter than Death Valley on Friday.

Amid the unrelenting grip of dangerous heat, France's national weather service issued the first ever "red" hazardous weather warning for southeastern portions of the country on Friday. A “red” warning is the highest level out of a four-level alert system put into effect after the deadly 2003 heat wave that claimed 15,000 lives, according to the Associated Press.

Europe Heat 6/30


In neighboring Spain, officials suspect heatstroke caused a 17-year-old in Córdoba and a 80-year-old man in Vallodolid to die in recent days.

Officials are also investigating whether the heat took a deadly turn in Italy, after the body of a 72-year-old homeless man was found near a train station in Milan on Thursday morning, according to BBC News. Temperatures have been soaring past 33 C (into the 90s F) daily since Monday.

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Amid the heat, hundreds of firefighters worked to contain a major wildfire that officials believe was started when a pile of chicken manure self-combusted, similar to the threat that wet hay bales pose.

A total of 21 firefighters required medical assistance when battling the blaze on Friday night, according to the Associated Press.

Fire June 28

Firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire in Palma d'Ebre, near Tarragona, Spain, on Thursday, June 27, 2019. Authorities suspect the cause of the outbreak was a deposit of improperly stored manure. (AP Photo/Jordi Borras)


The extreme heat wave continues to be one for the record books across Europe with daily June and all-time temperature records broken.

In recent days, all-time June record highs were set in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Coschen station (Berlin-Brandenburg) reached 38.6 C (101.5 F) in Germany on Wednesday. This record was broken again on Sunday as the temperature reached 39.3 C (102.7 F) in Bad Kreuznach. The all-time highest temperature ever recorded in Germany remains 40.3 C (104.5 F), set in Kitzingen on 7 August 2015.

Temperatures soared to 38.2 C (100.8 F) at Radzyń, Poland, on Wednesday, while Doksany in the Czech Republic, recorded a high of 38.9 C (102.0 F).

(AP/Alvaro Barrientos)

People cool off in a fountain during a hot summer day, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Tuesday, June, 25, 2019.

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Children cool off in the fountain of the Trocadero, in Paris, Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

(AP/Lewis Joly)

A woman sits in the shade along the Canal de l'Ourcq in Paris, Friday, June 28, 2019.

(AP/Manu Fernandez)

People cool off in an urban beach at Madrid Rio park in Madrid, Wednesday, June. 26, 2019.

(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

People cool off at the public fountain in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

(AP/Manu Fernandez)

Children cool off in an urban beach at Madrid Rio park in Madrid, Wednesday, June. 26, 2019.

(Thomas Warnack / dpa via AP)

A mother and daughter jump into a public pool in Ehingen, Germany, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Germany was one of many European countries this week caught in the throes of a blistering heat wave.


A total of 137 stations out of 150 with at least 30 years of data set daily record highs on Wednesday in the Czech Republic. Out of those stations, 41 broke June records for their individual locations.

More than half of the stations in Switzerland recorded new all-time June temperatures on Wednesday.

The average temperature across all of France was 27.9 C (82.2 F) on Thursday, the highest value recorded in all of June.

In Spain, Madrid was among the locations that recorded all-time June temperatures across the nation on Friday.

All weather reporting stations across the Spanish province of Castellón except one endured their hottest June day on record amid this heat wave.

Heat expands its grip across Europe this weekend

While cooler air brought much-needed relief to central Europe late this past week, the heat that held firm across Spain and France is surged north and eastward on Sunday.

The heat spread much farther to the north than earlier in week with widespread highs of 27-32 C (80s F) across England on Saturday. It was even hotter in London and surrounding areas with temperatures reaching or topping 32 C (90 F), making the day one of the warmest June days in around 40 years for the United Kingdom.

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Highs of 27-32 C (80s F) were also registered across southern parts of Norway and Sweden, away from the coast, on Saturday. In Oslo, temperatures have reached 26 C (79 F) on a day when highs closer to 19 C (67 F) is more common.

June will end on Sunday with temperatures exceeding 32 C (90 F) for many communities in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland. Berlin may be one of the hottest locations in Germany on Sunday with temperatures approaching or reaching 38 C (100 F).

Following the resurgence of heat over the weekend, this month is projected to be warmest June on record in Germany and Austria.


Heat relief in sight

As quickly as the heat surges back to the north, a storm is expected to bring cooler air into northern Europe.

The more comfortable weather first spread across the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Brussels and northern France on Sunday and will progressively sweep the heat out of the rest of northern Europe on Monday and Tuesday.

After Paris endured the peak of the heat wave on Saturday with temperatures topping 35 C (95 F), temperatures were trimmed to near 28 C (83 F) on Sunday.

Temperatures will be held back to or under 26 C (79 F) in Paris on Monday and then Berlin and Munich, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; and Zürich, Switzerland; on Tuesday. Madrid will remain hot these days, but the heat will not be as extreme as what was endured this week.

Europe 6/29


Precautionary measures being taken before heat wave breaks

Residents should be sure to drink plenty of water, wear light clothing and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest times of the day (midday and afternoon hours). Residents should ensure that the elderly, children and pets have sufficient ways to stay cool. Finding shade is also a good thing to do to get out of the direct rays of the sun.

Remember that locked vehicles without air conditioning can quickly become death traps for children and pets.

Multiple days of extreme heat, combined with warm nights, will not allow buildings and homes without air conditioning to cool off, creating uncomfortable sleeping conditions and also raising the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Residents are urged to use caution with finding ways to keep cool. The ocean, rivers and lakes across northern Europe may be too cool to jump into. Doing so may trigger cold water shock.

A 6-year-old sustained serious injuries after being thrown in the air by the force of water coming out of a fire hydrant that was opened by residents in Saint Denis, France, this week according to BBC News. Saint Denis is located north of Paris.

In an effort to prevent the repeat of the tragic 2003 heat wave, which claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people in France, local officials have taken multiple steps to ensure the safety of residents and tourists.

In Paris, more than 1,000 new drinking fountains were installed and charities have agreed to hand out water bottles to the homeless, according to France 24.

The city has also kept parks and swimming pools open later in an effort to give people more ways to cool off.

Reuters reported that Paris placed a ban on older and less efficient cars in and around the city in an effort to combat air pollution amid the heat wave. The number of vehicles affected is about 60 percent of those registered.

The Associated Press reported that French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer ordered national exams taken by students heading to high school be postponed from Thursday and Friday, 27-28 June, to this week due to the extreme heat. A total of 4,000 schools were closed or have special measures in place for students to seek relief from the heat, according to BBC News.

"The difference with 2003 is the very high humidity this year, which means it will feel much hotter than the temperature shown by the thermometer and so the discomfort felt will be greater than in 2003," France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn told France 24.

Authorities in Germany put temporary speed limits in place on several stretches of the famous Autobahn amid fears the extreme heat could cause roadways to warp or break apart as vehicles speed over them, according to Deutsche Welle.

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