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French officials concerned scorching heat could rival deadly heat wave of 2003

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Adam Douty, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 26, 2019, 1:03:55 AM EDT

Unseasonable warmth has prevailed across much of Europe this month, and some locations will continue to swelter into this weekend.

As the heat builds, a potentially dangerous heat wave began gripping parts of of western Europe and the scorching temperatures could last through the weekend.

Much of Europe will experience at least one day of intense heat, with the core of the heat building from Spain into France.

The combination of a storm stalling over the Atlantic Ocean and high pressure over central and eastern Europe is pulling very hot air from Africa northward across Europe.

6/23 Europe


This will set the stage for a potentially dangerous heat wave to occur over a large portion of western and central Europe.

Locations from Madrid to Paris, Belgium, Frankfurt and Berlin can expect a multi-day heat wave, with daily temperatures near or above 32 C (90 F).

In the hottest locations on Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures could approach or surpass 38 C (100 F).

The combination of this heat, high humidity and a strong June sunshine will create AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures that are even higher than the temperature on a thermometer.

The highest temperatures of the year so far are expected during this heat wave in cities such as Madrid, Milan, Prague, Munich, and Zurich.

France Heat AP 6/25

Children play and cool off in the fountain of Andre Citroen square, in Paris, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. More than half of France, including around Paris, was placed on an orange alert for intense heat Monday, the second-highest level on the scale, as very hot temperatures were predicted across Europe this week. (AP / Thibault Camus)


The heat began to build across Spain on Sunday as the temperatures reached 34 C (94 F) in Madrid. Temperatures climbed even higher on Monday as the heat spread into France.

By Tuesday, intense heat was felt from Spain to Poland as temperatures reached or surpassed 32 C (90 F) in Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin.

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Authorities in Paris have triggered emergency measures to help people cope with the extreme temperatures, such as opening swimming pools and parks later than usual to allow people to cool off, France 24 reported. According to the report, government officials are concerned the heat wave this week could rival the 2003 heat wave, during which temperatures soared to 40 C (104 F) and was blamed for nearly 15,000 fatalities.

"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. City officials have also handed out thousands of water bottles to homeless people in the French capital.

Temperatures will also gradually trend upward across most of the United Kingdom through the week. Temperatures may climb above 27 C (80 F) in parts of southern England on Wednesday. Many more communities across England may crack that threshold later in the week.

While warm, northern Britain and parts of Scandinavia will escape the extreme heat with more comfortable conditions prevailing this week.

A brief reprieve from the heat will be welcome from Belgium and Netherlands to Germany and Poland on Thursday and Friday. While it will remain unseasonably warm across the Balkan Peninsula on Thursday, the cooler air will overspread the region on Friday.

The arrival of the cooler air may be preceded by locally severe thunderstorms from northern Poland into the Baltic states on Wednesday, and from Hungary to Ukraine on Thursday. These storms will be capable of producing flash flooding, hail and damaging winds.

Unfortunately, no relief is expected for much of France and Spain as temperatures will continue to climb dangerously high each day into Saturday.

The heat could also be a problem for anyone attending Women's World Cup matches taking place in France this week.

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.

The elderly and children are most at risk for such ailments, and outdoor exposure should be limited during the hottest times of the day to reduce the risk of illness.

It may take until this weekend or the start of July for the heat to finally ease across much of western Europe.

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