Spain sweltered under an unrelenting heat wave Wednesday as temperatures started to build toward what is forecast to be a torrid weekend across southern Europe.
Spain’s weather service said thermometers could potentially hit 45 C (113 F) in southeastern areas of the Iberian Peninsula, which are under alert for extreme heat. That mark was reached Monday in the village of Loja near Granada at the start of the heat wave that is causing restless nights across the country.
More than 100 weather stations registered temperatures of at least 35 C (95 F) as early as 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to meteorologist Rubén del Campo of Spain’s national weather agency.
“On Wednesday, we expect temperatures to fall overall with the arrival of cool winds from the North and East, with the exception of the southeast and southern Andalusia, where hot winds blowing from the interior will cause temperatures to soar,” Del Campo said.
While some relief is in store in the coming days for the Iberian Peninsula, other European countries will sweat through the weekend.
In Italy, 10 cities were put on high heat alert for older people and other vulnerable populations from Bolzano in the north extending southward to Bologna, Florence and Rome. Temperatures are expected to reach 40 C (104 F) in the Sardinian inland Wednesday.
But storms in Italy’s populous northern Lombardy region caused flooding, felled trees and ripped roofs off buildings. More than 200 firefighters responded to emergencies in the regional capital of Milan, Varese, near the Malpensa airport, Lecco, near Lake Como, Sondrio, located in the Alps, and Bergamo.
Temperatures were also starting to tick up in Greece, where a heat wave was forecast to reach up to 44 C (111 F) in some parts of the country in the coming days. Authorities banned access to nature reserves and forests to reduce the risk of wildfires, while municipalities were opening air-conditioned areas in public buildings for people to shelter from the heat.
Greece’s agriculture ministry issued restrictions on the transportation and working hours of animals such as horses and donkeys offering rides in tourist areas during the heat wave. Working animals won’t be allowed to work between noon and 5 p.m. on days where temperatures are between 35-39 C (95-102 F) in the shade, while they won’t be allowed to work at any time of the day when temperatures exceed that range.
Scientists report that heat-related deaths soared in 2022 in Europe, when Spain had a record-hot year. The Mediterranean region is expected to see temperatures rise faster than many other areas of the globe because of climate change.