European heat wave grips Spain

Spain's meteorological agency is warning people to brace for high temperatures across much of the country over the coming days, amid a lingering European heat wave.

Trees beginning to shed leaves as temperatures reach 40 C

Temperatures in Spain are forecast to soar as high as 42 C into the weekend and stay high until Tuesday. (Albert Gea/Reuters)

Spain's meteorological agency on Saturday warned people to brace for high temperatures across much of the country over the coming days, amid a lingering European heat wave.

The agency said "temperatures will be significantly higher in much of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands," exceeding 35 C and reaching 40 C in much of the southern and eastern parts of the country.

The forecast predicted some respite in the form of showers and thunderstorms on July 10 and 11.

From Spain to Poland, temperatures have climbed as a mass of hot air from Africa has pushed northward. Some cities have seen temperatures near or beyond 40 C, and they're expected to stay high through the weekend. (Jens Meyer/Associated Press)

Many European countries, including Spain, France and Britain, have struggled to find relief from unusually high temperatures in the past week, although the UN weather agency said the continent is better prepared than ever to avoid major heat casualties.

Last week, weather stations across Spain warned people to take extra precautions because high temperatures increase the risk of devastating wildfires.

Many scantily-clad participants in Madrid's Gay Pride parade sweltered in 36 C heat on Saturday while older residents looked on, bearing the heat stoically.

"As Madrid-dwellers, we are used to high temperatures," said Ines Zurdo, 78. "But you can tell it's unusually hot because the trees are beginning to shed their leaves," she said, brushing aside a little pile of dry, brittle plane tree leaves from the seat at a bus stop.

Across the border, Portugal also braced for fires after an exceptionally dry winter and the hottest and driest June for 12 years. Almost 54 per cent of mainland Portugal is enduring severe drought.

Even in Denmark in northern Europe, scores of people flocked to beaches to cool down as temperatures climbed above 30 C Saturday.

At the Roskilde Festival, the largest music event in the Nordic region, Ida Kristensen told the TV2 channel that she was skipping the Saturday evening concert with former Beatle Paul McCartney, considered one of the eight-day event's biggest names, to return home, saying "the sun has won."


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