‘Hell is coming’: week-long heatwave begins across Europe

Temperatures could hit 40C from Spain to Switzerland, with authorities urging children and older people to stay indoors

Authorities have urged children and older people to stay indoors and issued severe warnings against dehydration and heatstroke as an unprecedented week-long heatwave begins its advance across continental Europe.

Meteorologists said temperatures would reach or even exceed 40C from Spain to Switzerland as hot air was sucked up from the Sahara by the combination of a storm stalling over the Atlantic and high pressure over central Europe.

High humidity meant it would feel like 47C, experts warned. “El infierno[hell] is coming,” tweeted the TV meteorologist Silvia Laplana in Spain, where the AEMET weather service forecast temperatures of 42C by Thursday in the Ebro, Tagus, Guadiana and Guadalquivir valleys and warned of an “extreme risk” of forest fires.

In France, officials in Paris set up “cool rooms” in municipal buildings, opened pools for late-night swimming and installed extra drinking fountains as temperatures in the capital reached 34C on Monday and were forecast to climb further later in the week.

“I’m worried about people who are downplaying this, who are continuing to exercise as usual or stay out in the sun,” the health minister, Agnès Buzyn, said. “This affects all of us, nobody is a superman when it comes to dealing with the extreme heat we’re going to see on Thursday and Friday,” she told a press conference.

Emmanuel Demaël of Météo-France said the heatwave was unprecedented “because it’s hitting so early in June – we haven’t seen this since 1947.” Record monthly and all-time highs were likely to be set in several parts of the country, Demaël predicted, and night-time temperatures were unlikely to fall below 20C.

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