Extreme heat: Temperatures could near all-time records in Europe; roads in danger of melting

Meteorologists say a warm air mass from North Africa and a ridge of high pressure is to blame for the heat.

LONDON — Western Europe is bracing for an extreme heat wave that has the potential to disrupt transportation and set all-time records over the next several days.

Weather agencies in Spain, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom have issued alerts for temperatures that could reach upwards of 113 °F in some areas.

Forecasters say a ridge of high pressure and a flow that is transporting warm air from North Africa are to blame for the extreme heat.

The UK's weather service has issued an Amber extreme heat warning from Sunday through Tuesday as a large part of the country could see temperatures between 90 °F to 100 °F.

Forecast models show warm temperatures could approach all-time records in some areas, and depending on the cloud cover and wind, some records might be in jeopardy.

Government officials are urging residents to take precautions as temperatures could feel more than 20 degrees above average.

"Most of us can enjoy the hot weather when it arrives, but it is important to keep yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11 am and 3 pm," said Dr. Agostinho Sousa, head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency.



Impacts from the heat

The combination of dry conditions and warm temperatures have made parts of Portugal resemble a tinderbox with firefighters working dozens of blazes.

The Portuguese National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection reports hundreds of residents have been evacuated, and the country has asked for emergency assistance to try to contain the flames.

The European Union said they have assisted by sending two aircraft with firefighting capabilities to the region.

And while fires are not as big of a threat in the U.K., some governments are preparing for the possibility melting road surfaces.

The Hampshire County Council says gritter lorries, commonly called snow plows in the U.S., will monitor streets to spread sand to help prevent the chance of melting.

Officials say rural roadways and surfaces that are south-facing are most likely to be affected.

The U.S. experienced similar but isolated problems in June when some roads in the South and Texas buckled because of triple-digit heat.


Heat streak continues

The heat wave is a continuation of the summer's record warmth.

The European Union's climate observers said the continent experienced its second-warmest June on record.

Temperatures in Spain, France and Italy soared above 100 degrees setting records and intensifying the ongoing drought.

Climatologists said the heat was not confined to the Mediterranean region, northern Norway reported a temperature greater than 90 degrees, which could be a new June record once confirmed.

Forecasters say a flow out of the south, from North Africa, and the warm air already over the continent are the two main ingredients for the record temperatures.

"The highest temperatures experienced in the UK tend to occur when our weather is influenced by air masses from continental Europe or North Africa – as it will be at the weekend - there is already a strongly-embedded warming due to climate change across the continent, that is increasing the likelihood of challenging the existing UK temperature record," said Dr. Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre.