Forest fires are increasing
Southern Europe groans under extreme heat
7/22/2022, 7:37 p.m
Drink a lot and cool down regularly, doctors warn in view of the ongoing heat wave in southern Europe. While the risk of forest fires is also increasing in Greece, Italy has already put out more than 30,000 firefighting operations. After a short cool-down, it is also getting hot again in Germany.
While the very high heat in Germany is briefly pausing, there is no breathing space in several southern European countries. For large parts of Greece, meteorologists are expecting a long heat wave that should last until the beginning of August. The thermometers in Athens showed 30 degrees Celsius early in the morning. On the weekend and in the days after, temperatures should reach around 40 degrees, according to the Meteorological Office.
Civil protection warned that the risk of fire was extremely high because of the drought. It is dangerous that even at night the temperatures in many places do not fall below 30 degrees – this makes it difficult for residents and holidaymakers to recover from the heat. The meteorologists do not expect a drop to the normal maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees for the next ten days. The islands of the Aegean such as Skopelos, Mykonos, Santorini and Syros as well as the mountainous regions of the mainland are spared from the heat wave because of sea breezes.
Doctors advised people – especially tourists – to be careful. The long heat wave will put a heavy strain on the body. Alcohol or sugary drinks should not be consumed. “Put on a hat, wear loose, light cotton clothing, drink plenty of water, take lukewarm showers again and again or swim in the sea and eat fruit and vegetables,” recommended a doctor on state radio. Pedestrians should walk on the shady side of the street if possible.
Extreme drought in Italy and Spain
New figures from Italy also show how severe the consequences of the drought are. There, the fire brigade reported that they had been deployed significantly more often this summer because of forest and bush fires than last year. From June 15 to July 21, more than 32,900 operations were counted across the country, around 4,000 more than in the same period last year, according to the fire department.
So far, the firefighters have intervened most frequently in Sicily and Puglia. In the meantime, the authorities are also complaining about one fatality in the forest fires: the police officer and civil defense employee died on Thursday in the municipality of Prepotto on the Italian-Slovenian border east of Udine while extinguishing the fire.
In Italy there has been an extreme drought for months, so that the flames can quickly spread to the dry soil again and again. Negligence or arson are often behind the fires. In addition, the wind often propels the flames.
Dramatic figures also came from Spain. 2022 is already the most devastating forest fire year there since records began. In the first seven months of the current year, the flames destroyed more than 197,000 hectares of forest, the state TV broadcaster RTVE reported, citing the European earth observation system Copernicus. That is already more than in the entire previous record year 2012, when the forest fires in Spain destroyed 189,376 hectares. For comparison: The almost 200,000 hectares (2000 square kilometers) that have been destroyed so far in 2022 correspond to around 80 percent of the area of Saarland.
Up to 38 degrees in Germany
In Germany, people got a little breather from the heat on Friday and Saturday. But on Sunday sweating is announced again: “After a little relaxation in southern Germany on Saturday, the heat turns up again. That means on Sunday it will be really hot again, especially in the south with up to 34 degrees,” explains ntv meteorologist Bjorn Alexander. “On Monday it will even be up to 38 degrees again – maybe even more, before the next thunderstorms come from the north-west in the afternoon and evening.” From Tuesday it will be slightly changeable again and only windy and cool in the north.
For the last weekend in July and the end of the month, Alexander expects more hot summer days. “Fortunately, extreme heat in the direction of 40 degrees is currently not in the program of the weather models.” But: “According to the current status, we can expect very summery 25 to 33 degrees, so for most of us it’s really normal summer weather.”