Authorities have urged children and older people to stay indoors and issued severe warnings against dehydration and heatstroke as an unprecedented week-long heatwave begins its advance across continental Europe.
Meteorologists said temperatures would reach or even exceed 40C from Spain to Switzerland as hot air was sucked up from the Sahara by the combination of a storm stalling over the Atlantic and high pressure over central Europe.
High humidity meant it would feel like 47C, experts warned.
Longer range weather forecasts show summer temperatures throughout July and August are expected to be higher than normal this year, rivalling those of 2018, which according to the European Environment Agency was one of the three warmest years on record on the continent.
Scientists have said last year’s heatwave, which led to increased mortality rates, a dramatic decline in crop yields, the shutdown of nuclear power plants and wildfires inside the Arctic Circle, was linked to the climate emergency.
Meteorologists warn that such heatwaves are likely to become more frequent even if countries succeed in their commitments to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C as part of the 2015 Paris climate accord. The EU has pledged to cut carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.