Sunday, October 2, 2022

Portugal on alert regarding heat wave and severe drought

LISBON ( Associated Press) — Portugal’s government on Friday announced an eight-day alert due to the acute risk of wildfires, as the drought-hit country braces for a heat wave reaching 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) Facing the wave.

A joint statement issued by five government departments said that by July 15, inclement weather brings with it “significantly increased risk of forest fires”.

The declaration of a state of alert gives the government temporary powers to order precautionary measures. The restrictions adopted on Friday include a ban on public access to the most at-risk forests, a ban on the use of agricultural machinery that can generate sparks and a ban on fireworks that are commonly used at summer festivals.

Portugal has long been facing massive wildfires. In 2017, the flames killed more than 100 people.

Heat waves and drought are also not uncommon in Portugal, but climatologists say one can expect higher temperatures and less rainfall across southern Europe as a result of global warming.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, says the continent faces one of its toughest years in terms of natural disasters such as drought and wildfires due to climate change.

In Spain, temperatures are forecast to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (107 F) over the weekend in some areas bordering Portugal.

Spain’s June rainfall was nearly half the 30-year average, according to government data, and the country’s reservoirs hold an average of 45% of capacity.

Italy also recently suffered a protracted heat wave and is facing its worst drought in 70 years.

At the end of June, 96% of Portugal was classified as having an “extreme” or “severe” drought, the two highest categories.

During the period when Portugal’s emergency sanctions are in place, the police and rangers will be permanently on standby and carry out regular patrols.

The Portuguese government says that during the peak fire season from July to September, Portugal will have about 13,000 firefighters and related personnel, more than 2,800 vehicles and 60 firefighting aircraft.

Portugal has improved its forest management and other strategies as deaths rocked the country in 2017; Since then no one has died in the forest fire. Last year, the country recorded the lowest number of wildfires since 2011.

Nation World News Desk
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