This year’s tourism season has been extra hot, with temperatures in the northern hemisphere reaching record-breaking levels that are set to keep intensifying.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), popular tourism destinations in Europe, such as parts of Greece, eastern Spain, Sardinia, Sicily and southern Italy, are currently experiencing the peak of their heat waves, with temperatures reaching above 45 Celcius last week.
“We have to step up efforts to help society adapt to what is, unfortunately, becoming the new normal. The WMO community is providing forecasts and warnings to protect lives and livelihoods as we strive to achieve our goal of Early Warnings for All,” said WMO secretary-general Prof. Petteri Taalas on the organization’s webpage.
The Italian Meteorological Society has named the scorching heat wave in southern Europe “Cerberus,” in reference to the Greek mythological three-headed dog guarding the gates of the Underworld.
Currently, the hottest destination in Europe is Italy. The WMO last reported 46.3 C in Licata, Sicily, and 45.8 C in Riesi, Sicily, on July 18.
Málaga, Spain reached 44.2 C on July 19. According to the WMO, this is tied to the previous, all-time maximum temperature recorded on July 18, 1978.
The hottest part of Spain right now is Figueres, which hit 45.4 C on July 18.
Tiranges and Serralongue, both in France, saw temperatures of around 40 C last week. Mandelieu la Napoule and Cannes were close at 39 C.
Greece is currently experiencing its highest temperatures in 50 years.
“National meteorological and hydrological services of France, Italy, Greece, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North-Macedonia, Serbia issued orange and red alerts for high-temperatures on 20 and 21 July,” the WMO reported on their website.
According to the organization, the previous European high was 48.8 C reached in Sicily in August 2021 and the global record is 56.7 C from Death Valley, Calif., in July 1913.
In an interview on Global News’ The Morning Show, travel expert Marty Firestone said there’s no need for travellers to cancel their plans due to the heat. However, they should take the precautions needed to stay safe.
“The bottom line is people need to hope they have a pool and hope they have a hotel with good air conditioning,” he said.
Firestone said that while you don’t have to cancel an upcoming trip this year, the heat waves are causing people to change their travel patterns.
“They’re going to go in the fall and the winter now in some of these hot spots and avoid the hot summer months. So that could be a new wave of ways people are travelling,” he said.
The record temperatures are partly due to the onset of El Niño, according to the WMO, and are expected to fuel further heat on land and in the oceans and lead to more extreme heat waves. The year 2016 was also strong for El Niño.
More than 60,000 Europeans may have died in last year’s heatwaves, according to experts, despite having some of the world’s best early warning systems.
“If there are any new extreme temperature records during the ongoing heatwaves, we will issue a quick preliminary assessment and then start detailed evaluations as part of our painstaking verification process,” said Randall Cerveny, WMO weather and climate extremes rapporteur, in a statement last week.