Europe wilts as soaring temperatures set to last until weekend

Emergency plans activated as Warsaw, Rome, Paris and Munich register 33 degrees

People cool off in the Trocadero fountains across from the Eiffel Tower in Paris as a heatwave hit much of the country. Photograph: Reuters/Charles Platiau

People cool off in the Trocadero fountains across from the Eiffel Tower in Paris as a heatwave hit much of the country. Photograph: Reuters/Charles Platiau

 

Continental Europe wilted on Wednesday as mid-30s Saharan heat emptied cities and melted motorway asphalt.

Warsaw, Rome and Munich all registered 33 degrees while Zürich, Berlin and Vienna were one degree warmer. In Paris, official temperatures clocked 33 degrees but meteorologists said a “heat sink” effect, where concrete absorbs the heat, made it feel in the mid-40s.

Emergency plans have been activated in many European countries, with people being told to check on the sick and the elderly with temperatures more typical for August than June set to last at least until the weekend.

Madrid is expecting 41 degrees on Thursday while forecaster Météo France has issued 78 orange alerts, the second highest level of weather warning, projecting highs of up to 39 degrees by Friday.

In Paris, locals and tourists stripped down to paddle in the Trocadéro fountains by the Eiffel Tower while sweating guides cancelled their walking tours through the French capital. Parisian authorities have set up “cool rooms” in municipal buildings, opened pools for late-night swimming and installed extra drinking fountains.

Forest fires

Further east, Berliners fled the city for surrounding lakes, restaurants opened late to avoid the worst of the heat and firefighters battled blazes in forests around the city.

The German Weather Service registered its highest ever June temperature – 38.6 degrees – in Coschen on the Polish border. The previous record – 38.5 per cent was measured in 1947 on the border to France.

Despite the sweltering heat, and the rush on ice cream and fans, not everyone has lost their sense of humour. In Germany, the Red Cross took to Twitter to urge people to ventilate their homes well.

“Cross drafts are not unhealthy, only the Germans think this,” it tweeted, insisting that, contrary to popular local belief, air currents can’t cause colds or flus.

In Munich, women sunbathing topless on the banks of the Isar River came into conflict with security guards employed by the city. When the women were ordered by guards to put on their tops, other women nearby took off their tops in solidarity and the official retreated in blushing defeat.

Further north, in the eastern state of Brandenburg, a man was stopped by the police while riding his moped completely naked. Police checked to see if he had broken any laws and, when it was clear he hadn’t, asked the man why he was completely naked. His answer: “Well it’s warm, innit?”