MADRID: The heatwave sweeping across southwestern Europe was expected to peak on Thursday in Spain, with blistering temperatures already fuelling wildfires across the Iberian Peninsula and France.
The region’s second heat this summer is forecast to hit southern Spain with some of the harshest temperatures. "For Thursday, we expect it to be the hottest day of this heatwave," said Spain’s state meteorological agency AEMET.
The valleys around three major rivers -- the Guadiana, Guadalquivir and Tagus -- will experience temperatures OF 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), it said. Most of Spain went on high alert on Wednesday, and AEMET said some regions were "suffocating" -- especially worst-affected Andalusia in the south, Extremadura in the southwest and Galicia in the northwest.
The health ministry told people to drink plenty of fluids, wear light clothes and stay in the shade or air-conditioning. The Andalusian city of Almonte saw the mercury hit 45.6 degrees Celsius at 5:30 pm (1530 GMT) on Wednesday.
Several other southern cities such as Seville and Cordoba recorded temperatures above 44C. In western Spain near the border with Portugal, forest fires have already razed at least 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres).
Between January 1 and July 3, more than 70,300 hectares of forest went up in smoke in Spain, the government said -- almost double the average of the past 10 years. Temperatures in Spain are expected to ease at the end of the week, but the stifling heat is set to move through France and Britain. London has issued an "amber" alert -- the second highest of three levels -- while one UK climate official said there was a chance Britain’s highest temperature -- 38.7C recorded on July 25, 2019 in Cambridge -- could be surpassed.
Meteorological services in France also warned the situation would "become intense between Sunday and Tuesday" -- possibly exceeding 40C before dipping by Wednesday.
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