A man cools off in a fountain at the Courtyard of the Orange trees in the mosque cathedral of Cordoba, in Andalusia, Spain, on Saturday. Spanish state weather agency issued a red alert in five different communities — Aragon, Cantabria, Extremadura, Navarra and La Rioja — with temperatues reaching up to 111 degress Fahrenheit. Photo by Salas/EPA-EFE
July 18 (BP) — A deadly heat wave has killed hundreds in Europe and buckled a runway at a British airport.
In Spain, authorities on Monday attributed 510 deaths to the prolonged heat wave, which has produced highs of up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days.
Efforts to contain wildfires in Spain and neighboring Portugal, aggravated by the extreme heat and a months-long drought, continued Monday.
Spanish officials said 40 forest fires have burned nearly 30,000 hectares across the country, including at least 11,000 in the northwestern province of Galicia.
Two people have died and thousands have been forced to flee their homes due to the blazes, Spain’s public broadcaster RTVE reported.
In Britain, flights were diverted from Luton Airport about 35 miles northwest of London after “high surface temperatures” caused a small section of its runway to lift away from the ground Monday afternoon, airport officials said in a Twitter statement.
The runway was repaired an reopened several hours later as temperatures at Kew Gardens in London soared to 99.3 degrees, according to Britain’s Met Office.
The unprecedented heat wave produced the highest temperature ever recorded in Wales, meteorologists said. The mercury at Gogerddan reached 95.5 degrees at midday, exceeding the previous record high of 95.3 recorded at Hawarden Bridge on August 2, 1990.
Rail operators across Britain urged travelers to stay home Monday and Tuesday in the wake of the country’s first-ever “red alert,” meaning the heat is a threat to life.
Network Rail cited the alert in closing its East Coast Main Line on Tuesday afternoon for all locations between King’s Cross Station in London and York and Leeds.
As night fell Monday, temperatures slowly receded, but remained very high across much of the country and were forecast to rise very rapidly amid strong sunshine across Britain on Tuesday morning.
The Met Office warned temperatures could exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time since records began — Britain’s all-time high temperature is 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit), recorded at Cambridge in 2019.
Meanwhile, Parisian officials mobilized to cope with temperatures expected to soar above 100 degrees on Tuesday by allowing more city parks to stay open around the clock or until midnight and instituting a series of other measures.
Under the measures, about 10,000 vulnerable people who are registered in on the city’s “Reflex” list will be contacted by telephone to keep track of their conditions, while dozens of fountains, misters and sprinklers connected to fire hydrants will be activated.
A string of temperature records were broken in western France on Monday, including Brittany, where the city of Brest topped out at 102.7 degrees — the highest temperature recorded since its weather station was opened in 1945, according to Meteo-France.