It’s not often the weather makes the headlines in Scotland for being on the warmer end of the scale. However, this week will see a heatwave in European countries that is so strong warnings are being released over public health.
The mini heatwave in the UK will last between midday on Tuesday and 6am on Thursday. Scotland will see temperatures rocket into the 20s, while England will feel a scorching 38 degrees celsius. A heatwave is defined as a period of three of more days of prolonged maximum temperatures unusual for the location.
The most notable heatwave in Europe came in 2003, when the continent experienced its hottest summer since 1540. Temperatures were 2.3 degrees Celsius above average resulting in 70,000 additional deaths.
What causes a heatwave?
A heatwave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into the atmosphere. This results in air from the upper levels of the atmosphere being pushed to the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature. The high concentration of atmospheric pressure makes it tough for other weather systems to move in, meaning the heatwave can last for several days.
Expect more heatwaves
A study released by the British Met Office concluded that human-caused global warming will make heatwaves commonplace by the 2040s. It states that Europe is likely to experience an extra hot summer once every five years. One of the report’s authors said that if carbon emissions continue to rise events that are for the moment rare could become the norm by 2100.
How to keep cool when the temperatures soar
The very young and the elderly are most at risk during a heatwave. Deaths in people over the age of 75 rise by 60 percent during heatwaves. Here’s how you can reduce health risks in hot weather.
The UK’s National Health Service provides the following guidelines:
For our furry friends…
- Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it is cooler.
- Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
- Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
- Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
- Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
- tay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or on the Met Office website.
- Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
- Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
- Wear loose, cool clothing, and a hat if you go outdoors.
- Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car when temperatures soar.
- Limit exercise time on hot days
- Provide shade and water
- Look out for signs of heatstroke these include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness (according to the Humane Society). If you suspect heatstroke take immediate action to cool down your pet and contact a vet.
The rest of Europe
The powerful heatwave is set to sweep across the whole of western Europe, meaning temperatures in Portugal, Spain and France could reach up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Temperatures in Spain have already hit the 40s.Catalonia warns of risks of fire
Catalonia’s meteorological service said that the heat brings with it “a particularly high risk of forest fires” in the districts of Barcelona and Girona. The regional government has asked people not to light fireworks within 500 metres of a wooded area and called smokers not to throw away cigarette butts.
The mercury is also rising elsewhere on the Iberian peninsula. The unseasonably hot weather has prompted the authorities to issue a warning. The General Directorate for Health suggests that people avoid the sun between 11am and 5pm.
The heatwave is being caused by an anticyclone in in Africa and the heatwave is expected to last until July 8th.
France is bracing itself for the hottest summer week in nearly ten years. Meteo France warned that the regions of Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées and Limousin, and Rhône-Alpes will be particularly hard hit and temperatures won’t dip much below 20 degrees at their lowest and breaking 40 degrees at their heighest.