'Hell is coming': Western Europe braces for unprecedented heatwave that could turn deadly

'Hell is coming': Western Europe braces for unprecedented heatwave that could turn deadly

europe heatwave june 2019
  • Countries including France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal will experience a massive heatwave from Wednesday, with hot air coming from the Sahara Desert.
  • Temperatures are expected to rise as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) this week.
  • The heatwave is expected to be so bad that one Spanish meteorologist tweeted: "Hell is coming."
  • Some 15,000 people in France died when temperatures hit similar heights in August 2003. Officials in Paris have already put the city on high alert.
  • Scientists attribute it to global warming, and warn of more such heatwaves if countries don't cut their greenhouse gas emissions soon.
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Western Europe is bracing for an intense, dangerous, and possibly even deadly heatwave this week, with temperatures due to soar as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

Countries including France, Spain, and Portugal are expecting record-breaking temperatures from Wednesday, while the rest of the continent is also set to face temperatures much higher than normal.

It's not clear when the heatwave will end.

Scientists have attributed the soaring temperatures to the combination of a storm over the Atlantic Ocean and high pressure over central Europe, which is importing hot air from the Sahara Desert.


Read more: How extreme summer heat affects your body and brain

Here's what's being forecasted:

  • Parts of France could reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, national weather agency Météo France reported. High humidity could make it feel like 47 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit), the BBC added.
  • Berlin is expecting temperatures as high as 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) by Thursday, the BBC said. Major cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg are also expecting temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Most of Spain is expecting temperatures of at least 36 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, according to Spanish meteorological agency Aemet.
  • Large swathes of Switzerland are expecting temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celsius from Wednesday, with Geneva predicted to reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday and Thursday, Switzerland's national meteorological agency Météo Suisse said.
  • Temperatures in Portugal are expected to hit mid-to-upper 30 degrees Celsius (upper 90s Fahrenheit), and could further rise to more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), Axios reported.
  • Parts of Poland are also expected to see temperatures rise to at least 35 to 40 degrees Celsius (95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) this week - which is at least 11 to 17 degrees Celsius (20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal, The Washington Post reported.

Silvia Laplana, a meteorologist at Spain's state-owned RTVE channel, tweeted images of the forecasted temperatures in the country this week with the caption: "El infierno is coming." Infierno is the Spanish word for hell.

The sudden spike in temperature could be dangerous because people are not accustomed to such high temperatures, which could put them at risk of heat-related illnesses, Axios said.

Some 15,000 people across France died following a similarly aggressive heatwave in August 2003, when temperatures in south of France hit as high as 44.1 degrees Celsius (111.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to France24.


Officials in Paris have put the city in high alert, with schools delaying exams, and placing hospitals and care homes on high alert, Business Insider's Sinéad Baker reported.

Read more: Paris opened extra swimming pools, set up mist machines - and postponed thousands of school exams - ahead of a killer heatwave looming over Europe

Paris Eiffel Tower Trocadero fountain heatwave

Though heatwaves are not uncommon in Europe, this one is unusually early. Experts say climate change is making heatwaves more common.

Stefan Rahmstorf, a climatologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research told The Associated Press: "This increase in heat extremes is just as predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil, and gas."


Heatwaves like this will continue to worsen if countries do not cut their greenhouse gas emissions soon, a group of scientists warned in a report published earlier this month.

Tourists refresh at a fountain in front of the Pantheon monument during an unusually early summer heatwave on June 24, 2019 in Rome.

Recent heatwaves around the world have already proven to be deadly.

At least 36 people have died during a prolonged heatwave in India, which has lasted for more than 30 consecutive days, according to CNN.

Temperatures in Churu, western India, rose above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) on June 1, the network reported.