Scots flying abroad urged to heed heatwave sweeping southern Europe

Popular Mediterranean tourist destinations are sweating through a new heatwave, amplified by climate change.

Scots flocking the dreich summer weather for warmer climes have been warned to take extra precautions as a heatwave continues to grip many popular Mediterranean destinations.

With the school holidays in full swing, airports across the country are busy as families jet off in search of sun, sea and sand.

But many residents and tourists in countries across southern Europe – including Greece, Spain and Italy – are staying indoors in a bid to avoid sweltering temperatures, amplified by climate change.

The UN weather agency said temperatures in Europe could even break the 48.8C record set in Sicily two years ago as concerns grow that the heat will provoke a spike in deaths.

STV Weather Presenter Philip Petrie said: “With everyone talking about the heatwave in southern Europe, I’ve had a lot of people asking why we aren’t seeing the heat and if we will anytime soon.

“The main reason for the southern Europe heatwave is the jet stream, which is flowing a lot further south than it normally does at this time of year – focusing high pressure to the south and pushing low pressure systems directly across Scotland and the UK.

“The high pressure across Europe to the south of the jet stream is blocked essentially, not going anywhere anytime soon, allowing temperatures to build day-by-day.

“We also have unusually high sea surface temperatures across parts of the Mediterranean with highs of 25c-28c. This is only exacerbating the effects of the heat on land, as even around coastal regions temperatures are not dropping below 20c overnight.

“The jet stream usually sits a lot further north at this time of year, and over June this was the case, which is what gave us the extremely high temperatures during the month and lead to us recording our hottest June on record.

“The unsettled conditions for Scotland continue for the foreseeable unfortunately, with further low-pressure systems being forced towards the country this weekend.”

Heat: Temperatures across many parts of Europe are expected to break records.

Temperatures above 40C are forecast to persist not only in the Mediterranean, but across North America, Asia and North Africa.

In Italy, health officials warned of extreme temperatures in 20 cities, rising to 23 on Wednesday, from Bolzano in the north to Palermo in the south.

In Greece, where a second heatwave is expected to hit on Thursday, three large wildfires burned outside Athens for a second day.

Temperatures as high as 44C are expected in parts of central and southern Greece by the end of the week.

Most of Spain is under alert for high to extreme heat, with forecasts calling for peak temperatures of 43C in areas along the Ebro River in the northeast and on the island of Majorca.

Spain is also dealing with a prolonged drought that has increased concerns about the risk of wildfires.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is urging holidaymakers to make sure they stay safe in the extreme heat when travelling abroad this summer.

Dr Maria Rossi, consultant in public health medicine at PHS, said: “Scots already struggle when there aren’t very high temperatures in countries that are more southerly and have hotter weather.

“So we can imagine the effects that might have when even they locally have got problems. We need to be especially careful if we are travelling abroad, keep our fluids up, remember that alcohol is a dehydrating type of drink, so try to avoid that in the high temperatures, keep in the shade and use sun creams.”

Heat records are being shattered all over the world and scientists say there is a good chance that 2023 will go down as the hottest year on record, with measurements going back to the middle of the 19th century.

June saw the warmest global average temperature, according to Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, and the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) predicted that a number of heat records are set to fall this summer.

The WMO said unprecedented sea surface temperatures and low Arctic sea-ice levels are largely to blame.

“Heatwaves are really an invisible killer,” Panu Saaristo, emergency health unit team leader for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a briefing in Geneva.

“We are experiencing hotter and hotter temperatures for longer stretches of time every single summer here in Europe.”

In a report on Monday, the WMO said a committee of experts has verified the accuracy of the 48.8C record set on August 11, 2021, in Sicily.

A full report has not yet been published.

The previous verified record of 48C was set in Athens on July 10, 1977.

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