Europe heatwave 2023 – live: Forest fire destroys homes in Spain as blistering 40C heat grips continent

Europeans seek shade as heatwave grips much of the continent

Homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people evacuated after a forest fire ripped through the Spanish island of La Palma in the early hours of Saturday.

Authorities said at least 500 people were forced to flee their homes in the first natural crisis on the island since a volcanic eruption in 2021.

Meanwhile, Red alerts for extreme heat have been issued in 16 cities across Italy as the Mediterranean country and swathes of Europe are gripped by blistering hot temperatures.

Tourist hotspots Rome, Florence and Bologna are among some of the cities affected, with people there told to take extra care as the mercury climbs towards 40C amid the Cerberus heatwave.

Temperatures are set to peak at around 36C (96.8F) in most Italian cities, though Puglia, Sicily, and Sardinia may reach up to 41C.

Next week temperatures are predicted to climb as high as 48C in Puglia,  Sardinia and Sicily as a second heatwave – named Cheron – hits the country.


16 red alerts issued for Italy

Authorities in Italy have issued red alerts for 16 cities across the country amid a sweltering heatwave.

Bologna, Florence and Rome are among some of the cities affected, with residents there told to take extra care.

Temperatures could exceed 40C in parts of Puglia, Sicily, and Sardinia, forecasters say.


Matt Mathers15 July 2023 09:16


ICYMI: Acropolis’ midday closure leaves many tourists in the lurch as a heatwave lashes southern Europe

Disgruntled tourists bemoaned the temporary closing of the Acropolis in Athens on Friday as Greek authorities proactively shut the world monument’s gates between midday and early evening amid a heat wave that continues to grip southern Europe.

Red Cross staff handed out bottled water to tourists wilting in long lines hoping to beat the closure and scale the steps up to the gleaming Parthenon temple as temperatures were expected to peak above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the Greek capital.

Menelaos Hadjicostis and Lefteris Pitarakis report:

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 12:40


Land temperatures in Spain surpass 60C as deadly heatwave sweeps Europe

The temperature of the ground in some areas of Spain has hit more than 60C during the deadly heatwave sweeping Europe, satellite recordings have shown.

It was so hot that a heat map that highlights scorching temperatures in red turned even darker – to black.

Temperature records have been broken on most of the continent, including France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, where highs of 40C were recorded again on Wednesday.

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 12:18


Forest fire in Spain’s La Palma island forces evacuations

A forest fire in the Spanish island of La Palma has forced the evacuation of at least 500 people, authorities said on Saturday, in the first natural crisis on the island since a volcanic eruption on 2021.

The fire started in the early hours of Saturday morning in El Pinar de Puntagorda, a wooded area at the north of the island in the Canaries, as many European cities brace for extreme heat in the coming week.

At least 11 houses were destroyed as the fire advanced, Fernando Clavijo, president of the Canary Islands said on Saturday.

“The number of people who need to be evacuated could reach 1,000. It depends on whether we can bring these strong winds under control,” Clavijo told reporters in La Palma.

About 140 hectares (346 acres) of land had been destroyed by the fire, he added.

Four helicopters and four firefighting units on the ground were battling to bring the fire under control in the island, which forms part of a Spanish archipelago off the coast of western Africa.

Authorities in the island were seeking help from other islands in the archipelago, such as Gomera and Tenerife.


Matt Mathers15 July 2023 11:47


Maps shows areas most affected by heatwave

A map published by the European Space Agency shows the areas set to be worst affected by the Cerberus heatwave.

It displays the areas of Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe where temperatures are forecast 40C.

“Temperatures are sizzling across Europe this week amid an intense and prolonged period of heat,” the ESA said.

“And it’s only just begun. Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave with air temperatures expected to climb to 48°C on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.”


Matt Mathers15 July 2023 11:15


Weather warnings issued in the UK

While temperatures soar across much of Europe, the weather is taking a turn in the UK with the Met Office issuing warnings for wind, rain and thunderstorms.

Forecasters say an Atlantic low-pressure will bring unseasonably strong winds, and heavy rain or showers to many place in the coming days.

National Severe Weather Warnings for wind, rainand thunderstorms have been issued highlighting the potential for impacts such as travel disruption to large swathes of southern and northern England, South Wales, parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland on Saturday.

Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Andy Page, said: “This is an unusual time of year for such strong winds and, with many people on holiday or planning outdoor activities, they are likely to cause some disruption.

“In addition, heavy rain and thunderstorms could lead to standing water and spray on roads and consequently difficult driving conditions. Winds are expected to ease through the evening.

“Temperatures are expected to stay near average or rather cool over the coming days especially in the rain and wind.”

A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms has been issued (PA)

(PA Archive)

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 10:57


52 forest fires recorded in Greece

Some 52 forest fires were recorded in a 24-hour period in Greece, the country’s fire department said.

The blazes were recorded between 6pm on Thursday and 6pm Friday local time.

“Most [of the blazes] were tackled immediately, at their initial stage,” a statement on the fire department’s website said.

Temperatures have soared across Greece as Cerberus continues to move across southern Europe.

Wildfires devastated swathes of the Greek countryside last year.

Wildfires in the Peloponnese region of Greece on Wednesday


Matt Mathers15 July 2023 10:30


Italy’s heatwave in pictures

People stand next to a fountain at Piazza Navona in central Rome, on July 14, 2023, as Italy is hit by a heatwave

(AFP via Getty Images)

People stand next to a fountain at Piazza Navona in central Rome, on July 14, 2023, as Italy is hit by a heatwave

Visitors fill their bottles with water at a fountain in Rome, Italy

(AFP via Getty Images)

Visitors fill their bottles with water at a fountain in Rome, Italy

A man cools off at a fountain in rome


A man cools off at a fountain in rome

Two women use a fan to cool off, as they visit Trevi Fountain, during a heatwave across Italy.


Two women use a fan to cool off, as they visit Trevi Fountain, during a heatwave across Italy.]

A woman shelters from the sun with a shirt near the Colosseum during a heatwave across Italy


A woman shelters from the sun with a shirt near the Colosseum during a heatwave across Italy

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 09:51


Is it safe to travel to Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia?

Travellers from the UK, US and elsewhere in the world may be looking with concern at planned trips to the Mediterranean.

As the busiest summer getaway since 2019 begins, travellers to southern Europe are likely to experience extreme heat. An area of high pressure appears to have settled over the Med with little sign of abating.

The deadly “Cerberus” heatwave (so named by Italian meteorologists) is gripping southern France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey, as well as smaller countries in the Mediterranean region.

Here, travel correspondent Simon Calder looks at whether it is safe to travel to Spain, Greece and Croatia:

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 09:40


ICYMI: Why is there no UK heatwave as Europe swelters during Cerberus?

Much of Europe is experiencing a heatwave – but the weather is colder and wetter in the UK.

As the UK gets prolonged showers – the Met Office predicts unsettled conditions to continue for the next few days – the Mediterranean region grapples with soaring heat that could touch a new European record as soon as this week.

Stuti Mishra takes a look at why the UK is not affected by Cerberus:

Matt Mathers15 July 2023 08:30

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