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A sunbather relaxes on a hot summer's day in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Spain. July 29, 2020
A sunbather relaxes on a hot summer's day in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Spain. July 29, 2020   -   Copyright  Manu Fernandez/AP Photo

Western Europe bracing itself for sizzling summer temperatures

Europeans freshly liberated from lockdown might be keener than normal to take advantage of the great outdoors.

But as well as taking precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19, they will also want to have some suncream handy.

That's because scorching temperatures are set to hit parts of Europe from Thursday.

Spain has issued a weather warning and said a heatwave could start from Thursday with temperatures predicted to rise to over 40℃ in the south and some central regions, according to Spain's public weather agency Aemet.

Joan Mateu/AP Photo
Temperatures in Spain could reach over 40C in some parts of the country.Joan Mateu/AP Photo

The Canary Islands and Asturias in northern Spain will be spared from the extreme heat, which Aemet said was due to the arrival of a mass of hot air from Africa

The rest of the peninsula is expected to see temperatures hover around 36-38ºC.

Meanwhile, as Portugal battles wildfires, the country has issued a fire alert for Monday and Tuesday due to the hot conditions.

Portugal's meteorology agency, IPMA, said the risk of fire had risen with temperatures of 37ºC in some regions.

PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP
Higher temperatures put Portugal's forests at risk of even more fires.PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP

Temperatures in Italy are also expected to be in the high 30s across the country this week and could reach 40ºC in the south.

In France, temperatures could reach up to 40ºC in the southwest from Thursday, according to the country's weather agency.

In the southeast, temperatures are expected to peak at 39 degrees, with slightly cooler temperatures expected elsewhere in the country.

Kamil Zihnioglu/AP Photo
Paris broke the country's temperature record last year.Kamil Zihnioglu/AP Photo

During last year's July heatwave temperature records were broken across France, with Paris reaching 42.6ºC.

Much cooler temperatures are expected across the channel.

In the UK, Brits will be able to enjoy the sunshine in 30ºC but storms are later expected across the country, starting in northeast Scotland, over the weekend.

Germany too is experiencing warmer weather, with temperatures expected to reach highs of 30ºC on Saturday.

Global warming

While temperatures are not expected to break last year's records, the World Meteorological Organization has warned about the high temperatures reached in Siberia, which it says has fuelled devastating Arctic fires for a second year running.

“The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. Because of teleconnections, the poles influence weather and climate conditions in lower latitudes where hundreds of millions of people live,” he added.

Coronavirus and hot temperatures

The World Health Organization (WHO) says to avoid exposure to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25°C.

Andrew Matthews/AP Photo
Brits flocked in crowds to the beach this summer, despite coronavirus warnings.Andrew Matthews/AP Photo

The body says "there is no evidence" high temperatures "prevents or cures COVID-19".

"You can catch COVID-19 no matter how sunny or hot the weather is, so protect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly, coughing into your folded elbow or a tissue, and avoiding touching your face," the WHO said on its website.

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