Hot African air brings scorch­ing heat, dust to Europe


MADRID _ Hot air from Africa is bring­ing a new heat­wave to Europe, prompt­ing health warn­ings about Sa­hara Desert dust and ex­cep­tion­ally high tem­per­a­tures that are fore­cast to peak at 47 de­grees Cel­sius (116.6 Fahren­heit) in some south­ern ar­eas. The tor­rid weather meant that pub­lic ser­vices were put on alert in Spain and Por­tu­gal. Tem­per­a­tures were fore­cast to reach 44 de­grees (111 Fahren­heit) Thurs­day in the Por­tuguese city of Evora, 130 kilo­me­tres (81 miles) east of the cap­i­tal of Lis­bon, and in the Span­ish prov­ince of Bada­joz, across the bor­der.

A hot air mass was mov­ing north­ward from Africa, au­thor­i­ties said, warn­ing that the mer­cury could peak at 47 de­grees Cel­sius this week­end in the south­ern Por­tuguese town of Beja.

Por­tuguese au­thor­i­ties is­sued a na­tion­wide health warn­ing, in­clud­ing for dust from the Sa­hara Desert. Warn­ings were also is­sued for 40 of Spain’s 50 prov­inces.

Up north in Swe­den, the coun­try’s of­fi­cial tallest point is set to change amid record tem­per­a­tures. Sci­en­tists said a glacier on Mount Kebne, the Scan­di­na­vian coun­try’s high­est peak at 2,111 me­tres (6,925 feet, 10 inches), is melt­ing and is no longer Swe­den’s tallest point. Gun­hild Rosqvist, a Stock­holm Univer­sity pro­fes­sor in ge­og­ra­phy, said the glacier lost four me­ters (13 feet, 2 1/2 inches) of snow in July alone as Swe­den en­dured record tem­per­a­tures that trig­gered dozens of wild­fires, even in the Arc­tic Circle. In neigh­bour­ing Fin­land, a su­per­mar­ket came up with a novel way of es­cap­ing the heat. The K-Su­per­mar­ket said on its Face­book page that pa­trons hop­ing to cool down could sleep overnight in its air-con­di­tioned store in Helsinki.

Homes in Fin­land are de­signed to han­dle the ex­treme cold and damp typ­i­cal of the Nordic re­gion, not the re­cent high tem­per­a­tures.

In eastern Europe, Poland en­dured unusu­ally high tem­per­a­tures up to 34 de­grees Cel­sius (93.2 Fahren­heit), forc­ing its power plants to go into emer­gency mode to in­crease out­put due to the wide use of air con­di­tion­ing and elec­tric fans.

In the streets of War­saw, the Pol­ish cap­i­tal, au­thor­i­ties placed cool­ing wa­ter in­stal­la­tions around and ad­vised peo­ple to stay in­doors. Dozens of the coun­try’s Baltic Sea beaches have ``no swimming’’ warn­ings due to health risks from al­gae blooms. Farm­ers across the con­ti­nent were bat­tling the effects of drought, so the Euro­pean Union of­fered to speed up funds to help them cope. Ger­man farm­ers have al­ready asked their govern­ment for 1 bil­lion euros ($1.17 bil­lion) in fi­nan­cial aid to help cover losses from this year’s poor har­vest.

© 2018 The Cana­dian Press

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