According to the European Union's Copernicus climate observers, the exceptional heat is being fueled by an African anticyclone over Mediterranean latitudes causing temperatures to soar in Italy and Greece. This ridge of high pressure is taking warm air from North Africa and creating a convection oven over parts of southern Europe.
Red alert warnings, similar to Excessive Heat Warnings by the National Weather Service in the U.S., have been issued this week for southern Italy, parts of Spain, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The UK Met Office is forecasting temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) through the week across Italy, Greece and North Africa.
Post-pandemic travelers are being greeted by intense heat at popular tourism destinations across Italy and Greece.
High temperatures this week in Rome are forecast to be above 100, potentially hitting 109 on Tuesday.
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In Athens, high temperatures are forecast to be near or above 100 through Friday. Over the weekend, Greek authorities shuttered the Acropolis when the high was forecast to hit 104 degrees (40 Celsius). Euronews reports the Red Cross responded after tourists began fainting from the heat.
The heat wave is so infamous it's been nicknamed Cerberus – the creature from Dante's Inferno in Greek mythology – by the Italian Meteorological Society.
Due to the heat wave, the Italian government issued red alerts for 16 cities.
Northern Hemisphere in hot water
In June, the European Union's Copernicus said Europe experienced its second-warmest June on record.
Extreme heat has been prevalent early this summer, shattering records in the U.S. and China.
A dome of high pressure over the Southwest U.S. has sent temperatures soaring as a weeks-long heat wave is expected to drag on for weeks. So far this summer, excessive heat has turned deadly for nearly half a dozen people in the West.
The U.S. starts the workweek with Heat Advisories in effect for nearly 49 million people, with more than 34 million under Excessive Heat Warnings, including in Central Texas, southern Arizona, Nevada and throughout California.
In addition to the heat wave in the air, there is also an ongoing marine heat wave fueled by El Niño.
In Florida, the sea surface temperatures are sometimes at or near air temperatures in recent weeks, even nearing 100 degrees. The UK Met Office reports sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea have been as much as 5 degrees Celsius above average.
The World Meteorological Organization said it's monitoring the heat wave happening across the world for new potential records.