London’s scorching tube sounds the alarm over Europe’s brutal heat

Intense heat forced London Luton Airport to halt flights to repair runways, while Wales set a new record and Ireland posted its hottest temperature in over a century. Hot and dry conditions in countries unaccustomed to scorching temperatures are raising concerns across the region about the effects of climate change.

After deadly forest fires in Portugal and Spain, extreme summer weather caused a further drop in the water level of the Rhine, Europe’s most important river, threatening to deliver coal and oil to the power stations and industrial facilities in Germany.

“The climate crisis is intensifying worldwide,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday, releasing a study showing that extreme weather conditions in recent years have cost the world’s largest economy Europe more than 80 billion euros ($81 billion).

The damage count for this summer has just begun. More than 600 people have died in the region, and large swaths of France, Italy and Greece face extreme risk of wildfires. The European Union has sent three firefighting planes to fight forest fires – two to Portugal and one to Slovenia.

“It’s not the result of a bit of a dry spell,” said Mark Parrington, a senior scientist with the Atmosphere Monitoring Service of Europe’s Earth observation agency Copernicus. “It’s been years in these dry conditions.”

Amid concerns over food shortages linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the development of crops such as corn has been affected, driving Paris futures up 10% since the start of the month.

Here’s a roundup of some of the countries hardest hit by the current heat wave in Europe:

UK

Temperatures in London and southern England could hit a record high of 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) this week. Trains on London’s Central and Northern Lines were measured by Bloomberg on Monday morning at 37 degrees Celsius, higher than the maximum temperature for transporting livestock such as cows, pigs and goats, according to UK regulations.

According to retail tracking data from Springboard, more people were working from home and avoiding travel as footfall fell 18% in shopping areas near London offices. Tube journeys have fallen to around the same level as last Monday, according to Transport for London.

Around a third of UK rail services will not operate, and those that do will face restrictions due to the heat, said Network Rail spokesman Kevin Groves. This means a trip from London to York would take four and a half hours, more than double its normal time.

The east coast mainline from London to Edinburgh will be closed between noon and 8pm on Tuesday as the line cannot withstand temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius due to wooden foundations and the design of overhead equipment from the 1980s .

The Royal Air Force has halted flights at its largest air base because of the “melted” runway, Sky News reported.

Unusual, possibly record high temperatures are likely on Monday and then again on Tuesday, the Met Office said. Record high temperatures in London will continue until Monday evening as London is set to experience its hottest night on record.

Read more: London to Bake in 40-Degree Heat. get used to it

Some companies in Britain have let employees stay home to avoid hot commutes and stuffy workplaces. Gymshark Ltd., which makes workout clothes and employs nearly 700 people in the UK, furloughed staff on Friday and Monday, calling it a reward for good performance. Similarly, Blackburn-based beverage exporter Sovereign Beverage Co. Ltd. also extended its weekend break until Monday.

Spain

The heat wave killed 360 people in Spain between July 10 and 15, the Instituto de Salud Carlos III announced on Saturday. June was the deadliest month in two years, with 830 dead despite the country being used to such temperatures.

“Climate change kills. It kills people, it kills our ecosystem and it destroys the most precious possessions of those affected,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said during a visit to the province of Caceres, on the Portuguese border. “We cannot not deviate from our commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

Unions are calling for stricter rules to protect workers’ health. At the moment, there are no regulations on maximum temperatures for people working outdoors.

In central Madrid, at the height of the heatwave last week, construction workers could be seen napping inside cranes and heavy machinery during the hottest hours of the day in an attempt to escape the heat. High temperatures in the Spanish capital are expected to remain around 40 degrees this week.

In Spain, at least two people have died due to the fires, according to authorities in the Castilla y Leon region. The body of a 69-year-old man was found in a burnt-out area in Zamora province on Monday, and a volunteer firefighter died on Sunday while helping put out a blaze in the same area.

Italy

Italy is also bracing for temperatures of up to 40 degrees later this week, including in the financial capital Milan. This month’s record high temperatures have already caused a glacial ice shelf to crash down from the top of Marmolada mountain, killing 11 people.

The Lombardy regional climate agency, around Milan, has issued a warning about ozone levels, recommending children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems to stay indoors during the hottest hours. In the area, the local farmers’ association Coldiretti reported that vegetables, including melons and green peppers, had been scorched by the heat.

Italy is experiencing “extreme drought”, according to the National Research Council’s drought observatory, with its largest river, the Po, at its lowest level in 70 years. The dry weather creates ideal conditions for wildfires to spread quickly.

Portugal

As of Monday morning, around 1,100 firefighters were still dealing with blazes in Portugal, which has claimed more than 200 more lives than normal since the start of the last heatwave.

But there are signs of progress. The fires have subsided since last week and the government lowered the situation to “alert” level on Sunday with forecasts of lower temperatures.

The move eases resource restrictions and allows some farmers and rural communities to gradually return to normal. Cereals can now be harvested in the early morning and evening, according to the government website.

This story was published from a news feed with no text edits.

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