DISCUSSION: An impressive heatwave is currently affecting Western Europe, bringing with it temperatures well above the 30°C (86°F) mark. Countries from Portugal to Poland are experiencing temperatures that are well above average, which is adding stress to the power companies. It has been a very hot summer thus far, globally July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded since the Satellite Era. So far, August appears to shatter that record as the heat continues on across the Northern Hemisphere. Back to Europe, this current heat wave is due to a large upper-level ridge (area of high pressure) that has parked itself over the region. An upper-level ridge is responsible for sinking air, which air as it sinks becomes compresses and heats up. The sinking air also prevents storms from rolling through as rising motion leads to clouds and eventually precipitation. The coolest places during this latest heat wave have been confined to the coast where typical daily sea breezes provide a nice relief during the early afternoon. Also, the Northwestern British Isles are on the periphery of the ridge which has allowed temperatures to remain cool at around 16°C (61°F). London, on the other hand, is expected to reach 32°C (90°F) over the next several days as the ridge doesn’t appear to be breaking down anytime soon. Even on mainland Europe, southerly surface winds have allowed warm air to make its way North into the European continent. Places such as Paris, France are expected to surpass 35°C (95°F), which can become deadly for the young and the elderly if precautions aren’t taken seriously. During episodes of intense heat like this, it is very important to stay hydrated and limit your time outside during the hottest part of the day (which is typically between 10am-2pm). Check on your neighbors to ensure that they are okay and not in need of any medical assistance. Central air-conditioning is not very common in Europe as it is in the United States, so extra caution must be taken at night when temperatures fail to drop below 27°C (80°F).
The United Kingdom and France are not alone, places in Spain like Madrid, have failed to record a high temperature less than 30°C since the month began. Temperatures have soared well above 40°C (104°F) in many places throughout Spain and Portugal since August 1st, which has led many weather forecasters to issue heatwave warnings to prepare and warn residents of the persistent heat. Even further East places in Germany, Poland, and the Ukraine had the potential to reach 30°C for several days earlier this week.
As is typical when heatwaves break, severe thunderstorms tend to erupt along potent cold fronts, bringing with them heavy rainfall, hailstones, and damaging winds. Thankfully, behind the storms comes much cooler and drier air. The heatwave is set to break later this week, according to local forecasters. To learn more about other high-impact weather events from across Europe, be sure to click here!