Tourists across the Mediterranean have today been told to stay indoors and avoid the beach during the hottest hours of the day as the unrelenting heatwave Charon continues to bake the region.
A NASA scientist today warned that this ‘will be the coolest summer for the rest of people’s lives’ due to climate change amid fears that temperatures could break the 48.8C record and pose a serious health risk to people across Europe.
British tourists and locals in southern Europe including Italy, Greece and Spain are now being warned by the United Nations of the life-threatening dangers of the blazing sun after dozens collapsed and fainted due to the heat.
And the sweltering heat is set to soar even higher in the coming days after a new cyclone called Charon, who in Greek mythology was the ferryman of the dead, hit Europe yesterday.
The UN weather agency warned temperatures in southern Europe could even break the 48.8C record set in Sicily in 2021 as desperate scientists urged the public to understand the ‘peril’ the world is in due to climate change.
NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus warned: ‘Most people still don’t know what peril they are in. This will be the coolest summer for the rest of your life, and that shouldn’t be just a meme – it should be actually terrifying. The only path out of this heat nightmare is to end fossil fuels as soon as possible’.
Concerns are growing that the heat, which has already claimed lives in Italy, will cause a spike in deaths.
‘Heatwaves are really an invisible killer,’ Panu Saaristo, emergency health unit team leader for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said today. ‘We are experiencing hotter and hotter temperatures for longer stretches of time every single summer here in Europe.’
Brits in Benidorm have not been deterred by the sweltering temperatures, with hundreds flocking to beaches in the Spanish holiday resort
Tourists were pictured soaking up the sun in Benidorm as heat warnings are in place across Europe
Holidaymakers had to sit in the shade as the hot weather reached unbearable heights in Benidorm today
Tourists were forced to take a dip to cool off in the scorching weather in Benidorm today
Cold refreshments helped Brits cool down in Benidorm as temperatures reached over thirty degrees in the holiday town
Three nuns sit on a step and use fans to cool themselves amid scorching temperatures in Bologna, Italy, on Tuesday
Young tourists fan themselves to try and cool themselves down amid high temperatures in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday
British tourists have been basking in the sun in Benidorm, Spain, on Monday
A man sticks his head at a fountain at the Piazza del Popolo to cool down in Rome amid a searing heatwave on Tuesday
British tourists are revelling in the heat and enjoying sunbathing on beaches across Benidorm in Spain
A woman pours water on a man near the Colosseum, during a heatwave across Italy, as temperatures are expected to rise further in the coming days, in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday
The UN weather agency said overnight minimum temperatures are expected to reach new highs, creating the increased risk of heart attacks and deaths.
‘Whilst most of the attention focuses on daytime maximum temperatures, it is the overnight temperatures which have the biggest health risks, especially for vulnerable populations,’ it said.
In response to the potentially record-breaking heat, Red Cross teams in Italy are checking on the elderly by phone while in Italy they took to social media to tell people not to leave pets or children in parked cars.
In Greece, volunteers handed out drinking water, while in Spain they reminded people to reminded people to protect themselves from breathing in smoke from wildfires that are ripping through the country.
It comes as it was revealed that the unrelenting heatwave across southern Europe has seen many tourists turn their backs on the Mediterranean – instead choosing cooler destinations to dodge the heat.
The numbers planning to visit the region between June to November has already fallen 10 per cent compared to last year, when scorching weather led to droughts and wildfires, according to figures from the European Travel Commission (ETC).
But British tourists are refusing to let that ruin their holiday plans in the Mediterranean this summer, despite temperatures skyrocketing to 48C on the Italian island of Sardinia today.
Indeed, Britons are booking fewer holidays at home and more in the Med, often many months in advance, as they crave post-lockdown beach escapes, said Sean Tipton of British travel agent group ABTA.
British tourists are revelling in the heat, enjoying sunbathing on beaches across Benidorm in Spain and Albufeira in Portugal while others sought relief from the searing sunshine by having drinks at nearby bars.
But travellers from other countries are choosing to holiday in cooler destinations like Ireland, Czech Republic, Denmark and Bulgaria.
‘We anticipate that unpredictable weather conditions in the future will have a greater impact on travellers’ choices in Europe,’ said Miguel Sanz, the head of the ETC.
A report by the trade body also shows 7.6 per cent of travellers now see extreme weather events as a major concern for trips between June and November.
Among them are Anita Elshoy and her husband, who returned home to Norway from their favourite vacation spot of Vasanello, a village north of Rome, a week earlier than planned this month as temperatures reached around 35C.
‘(I) got a lot of pain in the head, legs and (my) fingers swelled up and I became more and more dizzy,’ Elshoy said of her heat-related symptoms. ‘We were supposed to be there for two weeks, but we couldn’t (stay) because of the heat.’
Demand for travel has soared again this summer as tourists leave behind years of pandemic restrictions, and travel companies say the heat hasn’t caused many cancellations – yet.
But that balance could shift as heatwaves are set to become more gruelling. Scientists have long warned that climate change, caused by CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, will make weather events more frequent, severe and deadly.
The UN today warned that the world should prepare to face increasingly intense heatwaves.
‘These events will continue to grow in intensity, and the world needs to prepare for more intense heatwaves,’ John Nairn, a senior extreme heat adviser at the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, told reporters in Geneva.
British tourists have been forced to flee their holiday homes across southern Europe this week as wildfires ripped through tourist hotspots in Greece, Switzerland, Spain and Turkey.
And there is no end in sight for the unrelenting heatwave in the Mediterranean that has seen tourists faint and thousands run for their lives from fierce wildfires tearing through seaside resorts.
Sardinia is set to bear the brunt of the unforgiving heat, with forecasters predicting that temperatures could reach up to 48C later today and edge ever closer to the record of 48.8C set in the Sicilian town of Floridia in August 2021. This has raised fears of a repetition of last year’s heat deaths.
The UN weather agency predicted the 48.8C record could be broken in the coming days.
Italian meteorological society president Luca Mercalli said: ‘Even if that record [48.8C] is not broken, we are seeing a heatwave the length of which is unprecedented.’
Two youngsters enjoyed the heat as they lounged on a beach in Benidorm today
Holidaymakers opted to wear just their swimmers as they went about their days in scorching Benidorm
Tourists have flocked to the beaches in Spain as they try and cope with the soaring summer heat
British tourists across the Mediterranean are being warned of the life-threatening dangers of the blazing sun, with temperatures set to reach 46C in Antalya, Turkey, and 44C in Zaragoza, southern Spain, today.
Temperatures as high as 44C are expected in parts of central and southern Greece by the end of the week.
The ‘unprecedented’ heat is likely to continue into August in some areas, the World Meteorological Organisation said.
Stories of tourists being airlifted off Italian beaches or ferried away in ambulances from Athens’ Acropolis have flooded European media in recent weeks.
‘Our recent research indicates a decline in the number of people interested in travelling in August, the peak month, while more Europeans are considering autumn trips,’ Sanz said.
Tourists in Rome told Reuters they would think twice about booking a trip there again in July as they struggled to drink enough water, stay cool and find air-conditioned spots to rest.
‘I would come when it’s colder. Only June, April,’ said Dalphna Niebuhr, an American tourist on holiday with her husband in Rome this week, who said the heat was making her visit ‘miserable.’
That’s bad news for Italy’s economy, which thrives on busy summer traffic.
Italy’s Environment Ministry warned in a report this year that foreign tourists would in future travel more in the spring and autumn and choose cooler destinations.
‘The balance will be negative, also because part of the Italian tourists will contribute to the flow of international tourism to less hot countries,’ the report said.
People enjoy the sun on a beach in Nice, France, on Monday
British tourists are enjoying the hot weather in Benidorm, Spain, on Monday
Tourists embrace the scorching heat in Benidorm on Monday
Holidaymakers relax on sun loungers and towels at the beach in Benidorm on Monday
People cool off at the Piazza del Popolo, during a heatwave across Italy, as temperatures are expected to rise further in the coming days, in Rome on Tuesday
People queue to refill their water bottles, during a heatwave across Italy in Bologna on Tuesday
Civil protection workers set up a ‘help point’ outside the Colosseum, one of 28 points to be installed around Rome to help people coping with the heat, on Tuesday
A woman puts a wet head scarf on a man to protect him from the son during a heatwave in Bologna, Italy, on Tuesday
Vittoria Cantelli, 18 years old, holds a folding fan as people stand in a queue for water in Bologna on Tuesday
Elderly people sit on benches in the shade for some relief from the scorching sun in Barcelona on Tuesday
Holidaymakers bathe in Lierna, on Lake Como, northern Italy, on Monday amid soaring temperatures
A man covers his head in water at a fountain in Rome, Italy, on Monday amid skyrocketing temperatures
A woman cools off at Fontana della Barcaccia at the Spanish Steps in Rome during the heatwave
Boys dive into Lake Como, at Lierno, northern Italy, on Monday amid a searing heatwave
British holidaymakers trying to stay cool during Spain’s heatwave in Benidorm
British tourists are braving the extreme heat to sunbathe on beaches and walk along the promenades across Benidorm in Spain on Monday
British tourists in Benidorm are braving the heatwave, with many seeking shelter in the shade on Monday
Young men dive into the Mediterranean sea in Marseille, southern France, on Monday
Some hope that the change will simply be a shift in traffic, not a reduction.
In Greece, where international air arrivals were up 87.5 per cent year-on-year between January and March, overcrowding in the summer has plagued tourist hot spots like the island of Mykonos.
Increased travel in the winter, spring and autumn months could ease that problem and make up for a potential summer slowdown, according to the Greek environment ministry.
Greek authorities closed Athens’ ancient Acropolis during the hottest part of the day on Friday to protect tourists.
In Spain, high vacation demand is expected in coastal destinations in the north of the country and on Spanish tourist islands, where summer temperatures tend to be cooler, according to a report from national tourism association Exceltur.
Spaniards Daniel Otero and Rebeca Vazquez, who were visiting Bilbao, said they might move their holiday to June next year, when it would be cooler and more comfortable.
For Elshoy, summers in southern Europe may be a thing of the past. She said she will consider holidaying in her home country of Norway instead, adding: ‘I don’t want to have a holiday where I have a headache and am dizzy again.’
The sweltering heat that is stifling Europe has sparked wildfires that have ripped through holiday homes across Greece, Switzerland, Spain and Turkey, forcing thousands to evacuate from several popular tourist hotspots.
In the canton of Valais, Switzerland, more than 200 firefighters worked relentlessly throughout the night to douse the flames of a roaring wildfire but the flames engulfed villas in several popular mountain villages.
In Greece, a wildfire intensified overnight and swept along forests north of Athens for a second day on Tuesday, as firefighters managed to contain other blazes southeast and west of the capital.
Flames approach a house as a wildfire burns in Saronida, near Athens, Greece, on Tuesday
A man evacuates horses as a wildfire burns near the village of Pournari, Greece, on Tuesday
A bunrt turtle is seen after a wildfire in Panorama Saronida, Attica, Greece, on Tuesday
A resident looks at burnt-out area after a wildfire in Panorama Saronida, Attica, Greece, on Tuesday
On the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canaries, meanwhile, at least 4,000 people had to be evacuated as a forest fire burned out of control following a heatwave, authorities said
Pictured: A wildfire on the flank of a mountain in Bitsch near Brig, Switzerland, on Tuesday
The forest fire in Hatay is spreading towards the city on Monday in Turkey
A helicopter carries water to a wildfire on the flank of a mountain in Bitsch near Brig, Switzerland, on Tuesday
Local residents try to protect a house from the raging fire in Lagonisi area, some 35 kilometeres from Athens
Thousands of holidaymakers at six seaside resorts in Greece, including Lagonissi and Loutraki, have been evacuated due to raging wildfires
The blaze raged uncontrolled and burned forest in the area of Dervenochoria about 18 miles north of the tourist hotspot of Athens, a fire service official said on Tuesday.
Hundreds of holidaymakers have been forced to flee from the wildfires as officials said the blaze had ripped through 7,000 acres of land along the coast, where tourists stay in holiday homes.
Spain is also dealing with a prolonged drought that has increased concerns about the risk of wildfires.
Some 400 firefighters assisted by nine water-dumping aircraft laboured to extinguish a wildfire which burned for a fourth consecutive day on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands. Authorities said a perimeter has been established around the blaze but it is still active.
Temperatures are expected to soar further this week, with temperatures reaching 42C in Greece and Cyprus in the coming days.
And in Italy, tourists have been warned to brace for ‘the most intense heatwave of the summer and also one of the most intense of all time’.
Health officials have issued red weather alert warnings for 20 cities across Italy, including Rome where temperatures are expected to soar to a record-breaking 43C. The capital’s previous record high of 40.5C was set in August 2007.
A red alert warning means that the heat is so intense that it poses a health risk to the whole population – not just vulnerable groups like the elderly and very young children.
Britons who have travelled to the Mediterranean have told how the heat is so intense that they have suffered sunstroke and been forced to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day.
The heatwave has left some Brits rethinking their holiday plans as they make last-minute cancellations and opt for getaways closer to home. But some in Benidorm were pictured having the time of their lives as they used cold beers and cool misty sprays to keep cool in the Spanish holiday destination.
One Briton, Victoria Moy, recently cancelled a trip to Sicily, Italy, in favour of Dorset due to soaring temperatures. She told MailOnline: ‘Couldn’t think of anything worse than 32 degrees with a toddler!
‘We had booked to go to Palermo in Sicily from 5-12 July. Booked £400 flights and paid for them, and I reserved an Air BnB. I had planned to go to a cookery school in the heart of Palermo to perfect some Italian recipes.
An aerial view of drought Lavender Field in Lunel the Herault department of southern France on July 16
People cool off at a water fountain in Messina, on the island of Sicily, during a heatwave on Sunday
Tourists rest on a bench in the shade in Rome, Italy, on Monday
A man stands in front of a fan before entering the Colosseum in Rome during a heat wave across Italy on Monday
A man whose head is covered in a scarf to shield him from the searing sun fills a bottle of water at the Fontana della Barcaccia at the Spanish Steps in Rome during a heat wave across Italy on Monday
The devastating effects of the heatwave has been seen across Europe, with a 44-year-old road sign worker dying due to the heat in Italy.
The 44-year-old Italian man, who has not been named, collapsed last Tuesday due to the heat in the Italian city of Lodi, southeast Milan, as temperatures soared to above 40C. The worker, who has not been named, later died in hospital.
Scientists have relentlessly warned of the damaging effects of climate change. As well as withering crops, melting glaciers and raising the risk of wildfires, higher-than-normal temperatures also cause health problems ranging from heatstroke and dehydration to cardiovascular stress.
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.
Human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas is making the world hotter and is being amplified by the naturally occurring El Nino weather phenomenon, which warms the surface waters in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean.
El Nino events, which occur every two to seven years, are marked by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific near the Equator, and last about nine to 12 months.
But the current El Nino only started a few months ago, is still weak to moderate and is not expected to peak until winter.
Research published on Monday found that more than 61,000 people died due to the heat during Europe’s record-breaking summer last year.
The majority of deaths were in people over the age of 80 and about 63 percent of those who died due to the heat were women, according to the research published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The world has warmed an average of nearly 1.2C since the mid-1800s, unleashing extreme weather including more intense heatwaves, more severe droughts and storms made fiercer by rising seas.
Oceans absorb most of the heat generated by planet-warming gases, causing heatwaves that harm aquatic life, altering weather patterns and disrupting crucial planet-regulating systems.
In June, global sea surface temperatures hit unprecedented levels. Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent for the month since satellite observations began, at 17 per cent below average, breaking the previous June record by a substantial margin.
While sea surface temperatures normally recede relatively quickly from annual peaks, this year they stayed high, with scientists warning that this underscores an underappreciated but grave impact of climate change.
‘If the oceans are warming considerably, that has a knock-on effect on the atmosphere, on sea and ice worldwide,’ said Michael Sparrow, chief of World Climate Research Programme at the WMO.
‘There’s a lot of concerns from the scientific community and a lot of catch-up from the scientific community trying to understand the incredible changes that we’re seeing at the moment.’