Last month was the second hottest month of April since 1900. The high temperatures and lack of rain has worried people across Europe, but farmers are especially concerned by the drought.
There was less than average rainfall in February and this continued through March and April.
Omar Baddour, of the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, explained: “A high pressure mass has blocked normal weather patterns moving from west to east resulting in less cloud cover and therefore less rainfall.”
France is one of the worst affected countries, where people still remember the heatwave of 2003 and the thousands of deaths that were attributed to the heat. That year the drought resulted in European farmers losing 13 billion euros. But experts still have difficulty forecasting the weather for the rest of this year.
Omar Baddour said: “In comparison to 2003, this is still springtime, which has a different dynamic to the summertime. Usually, European summer heatwaves move up from the Sahara, from north Africa, and this hasn’t happened yet this year so we can’t yet say that this is the beginning of a heatwave which will last all year.”
Forecasters are however now predicting rain in the next few days and farmers across Europe are hoping that it will be enough to replenish water supplies, and save their crops.