BERLIN ( Associated Press) – People flocked to parks and pools across Western Europe on Saturday for some respite from the start of summer as the mercury rose above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in France and Spain.
In Germany, where high levels of 38 C (100.4 F) were expected, the health minister urged vulnerable groups to stay hydrated.
“Heat and too little fluid can be fatal for older people,” tweeted Karl Lauterbach. “We need to keep an eye on the elderly and people with disabilities today.”
Meanwhile, officials warned of wildfire in the western Mediterranean due to prolonged dry to high temperatures and flammable conditions.
The European Commission’s Copernicus emergency management service said the fire risk was “extreme” and “very extreme” in parts of the Rhone river valley in Spain, France, Sardinia, Sicily and mainland Italy.
The 27-nation bloc has put 12 firefighters and a helicopter on standby to assist countries battling the raging fires this summer.
Meteorologists in France described the situation as “really extraordinary” and predicted a peak of 43 C (109.4 F) could be reached before thunderstorms on Saturday brought cooler weather from the Atlantic.
Experts say an early heat wave is a sign of what’s to come as extreme temperatures due to climate change are usually seen only in July and August and are likely to be even higher in June.
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