Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Paris — Parisians were on Monday bracing for potentially the hottest temperature in the French capital as a new heatwave blasted into northern Europe that could set records in several countries.

Temperatures were already set to top 30ºC  on Monday in Paris, but the mercury could soar beyond 40ºC on Thursday and topple a temperature record dating back to 1947.

The severe heat, which forecasters say will only last a few days but will be exceptionally intense, is expected to affect northern France and parts of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

“It’s likely that these three countries see temperatures at or above 40ºC for the first time,” Francois Jobard, a forecaster from the French Meteo France weather office, said.

The new blast of hot air comes less than a month after a heatwave scorched Europe at the end of June, forcing new attention on the issue of climate change.

“The heatwave that is too much,” said the headline in the Le Parisien daily on Monday, highlighting that “Act II” of this summer’s severe weather would further hurt production of crops from potatoes to grapes.

“Thursday (July 25) will be a potentially historically hot day,” said Jobard. “We are forecasting 41 or 42 degrees in Paris on Thursday and there is the strong chance of beating the record,” he said.

The highest temperature recorded in Paris was 40.4ºC in 1947. Since records began in 1873, this was the only time a plus-40 temperature was recorded in the French capital, he said.

Other French cities could also see their records tumble on Thursday, including Reims, Bourges, Lille and Clermont Ferrand, he said.

Britain will see high temperatures, but will be cooler than countries on the continent.

Forecasters predict there is a chance the 36.7ºC record high for July — set on July 1 2015 at London Heathrow Airport — could be broken.

Germany was already experiencing several forest fires and drying river beds while farmers fear another bad crop after 2018’s low yield which was also caused by an unusually hot summer.

The French government has warned that wine production will be down by 6%-13% over 2018, because of the ongoing heatwave.

Huge wildfires that have ravaged the mountainous Castelo Branco region of central Portugal and left dozens injured have been “90%” controlled, firefighters said on Monday, but warned that strong winds could cause the flames to spread.

The new heatwave in northern Europe came as the US also sweltered in extreme hot temperatures. The New York City Triathlon, which had been scheduled for Sunday, was cancelled for the first time since its founding in 2001.

Scientists are increasingly confident that man-made climate change is driving up the length and intensity of heatwaves — the period of record-breaking temperatures in June was found to have been between five and 100 times more likely due to global warming.

The three-day temperature peak from June 26-28 in France was 4ºC hotter than an equally rare June heatwave would have been in 1900, the World Weather Attribution team said.

One study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology also said the deadly, weeks-long heatwave across northern Europe in 2018 would have been statistically impossible without climate change.

France saw its highest temperature on June 28 — 46ºC in Verargues in the Herault department of southern France.

AFP