Parts of Spain and Portugal braced for 47C heatwave

Tourism operators, such as Thomas Cook and Alltours, were quoted by German news agency DPA as saying that last-minute bookings for the Mediterranean are down, as holidaymakers seek out cooler temperatures on the North Sea and Baltic coastlines.

Temperatures will need to climb significantly if they are to come close to England's current August record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in 2003.

Spain's highest recorded temperature is 46.9 degrees Celsius in Cordoba, a southern city, last July.

The mercury is being driven higher by a hot air mass moving north from Africa, bringing dust from the Sahara Desert.

Forecaster of the edition declared that "a risky, potentially record-breaking heat wave" in the Iberian Peninsula can reach "the upper values of 40 degrees (40 to 50 - ed.)". But this summer, predicted high temperatures in Spain and Portugal, aided by the flow of hot air from Africa.

Nicola Maxey from the Met Office says: "Temperatures will increase by a couple of degrees day by day with highs in the upper 20Cs quite widely by Friday and into the low 30Cs in places at the weekend".

The World Meteorological Organization says continental Europe's heat record is 48 C (118.4 F), set in Greece in 1977.

Temperatures hit 44C in Córdoba in Spain and in Cuba in Portugal today, with the temperature expected to hit 46C tomorrow in Odemira in southern Portugal.

The strong heat of the Iberian peninsula has been repeated in other parts of Europe.

A glacier on Sweden's Kebnekaise mountain has melted so much that it is no longer the country's highest point, raising concerns about the rapid pace of climate change.

Norway's road service has asked motorists to watch out for reindeer and sheep that may be sheltering from the heat in tunnels.

"The animals retreat to colder places; both reindeer and sheep find refuge in tunnels and shaded areas", said Tore Lysberg, an official from the administration.

In the country, the temperature reached 31.2ºC on Wednesday.

The ties between heat waves and climate change are robust, with climate scientists already tying the Scandinavian and United Kingdom heat waves to climate change.

Wildfires have raged across Greece killing more than 90 people, and Sweden has battled dozens of fires as far north as the Arctic Circle.

"In Britain, Friday could be as hot as last Friday, with 34C not out of the question". In Germany, decreased water levels in the Elbe River revealed previously submerged grenades and ammunition from WWII.

  • Eleanor Harrison