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Temperature soars to 50C in Spain and Portugal as deadly European heatwave intensifies

Mirror logo Mirror 03/08/2018 Laura Connor
a crowded beach on a sunny day: Lyme Regis in Dorset is just one of the UK beaches packed with bathers looking to enjoy the high temperatures © Alamy Lyme Regis in Dorset is just one of the UK beaches packed with bathers looking to enjoy the high temperatures

Europe is sweltering in its hottest temperatures, with record figures for parts of Portugal on Friday and the mercury due to soar higher on Saturday.

Official figures showed it hit just under 45C (113F) there, but we recorded 50C in the south with a handheld thermometer.

It comes after a roadworker in his 40s and 78-year-old died from heatstroke in neighbouring Spain this week.

The Spanish plume yesterday hit the UK, with highs of 32.8C.

And forecasters warned of rising temperatures blowing in from Europe this weekend.

a group of people on a beach © Credits: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

Thousands flocked to Portugal’s coast yesterday to escape the blazing temperatures.

Several places in the southern Alentejo region had been forecast to hit 47C, so I headed inland in search of a record-breaking spot.

As we stood with the sun beating down on us, en route to Beja, our thermometer hit 50C in no time – the maximum it could measure.

Stepping out of the car on arrival in Beja, the heat from the cobbles seared through my sandals.

Breathing felt like a chore and my lungs filled with muggy air. It smelled and some­how tasted hot, almost burning my nose and throat.

a person wearing a hat © Credits: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

The oppressive heat had driven the people of Beja inside or away.

Armando Tomas, 47, owner of Aladdin homewares shop, said locals did not step outside until sunset at around 8.30pm.

He added: “This year has been unbearable. The whole place has felt like a ghost town during the day.”

On Thursday the hottest temperature on the Iberian Peninsula was 45.7C in Mora, Portugal, just a few miles north of Beja, according to the country’s meteorological organisation IPMA.

On Friday in Beja it was officially 43.1C, just a couple of degrees cooler than the highest temperature for the whole country.

a woman standing on a sidewalk © Credits: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

But how did the 50C we recorded in the direct, blazing sun feel? I could finally test whether you can fry an egg on a car.

Cracking the yolk on to the scalding bonnet was like dropping it into a hot pan; before we knew it, it started to cook.

Iberia’s heatwave, due to hot air from North Africa, is its most severe since 2003, with governments putting emergency services on alert for forest fires.

Met Office meteorologist Becky Mitchell said: “It’s hot quite widely across Europe at the moment, but the difference with Spain and Portugal in particular is they’ve just drawn in some very hot air from across the north of Africa, so that is elevating temperatures even more.

“Things are expected to cool down slowly next week, when there will be more of an Atlantic influence.”

a person smiling for the camera © Credits: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

While the blistering inland region was deserted, the Algarve resort of Albufeira a few miles away was packed with holidaymakers yesterday. Fisherman’s Beach was already busy by 10am.

One group of Brits was cooling down at a beach bar.

David Hague, 18, of Scunthorpe, said: “I can’t wait to show off my tan back home.”

Pal George Churn, 21, from Derby, said of the extreme heat: “Bring it on.”

While friends Laura Whorton, Faye Ambler, Lauren Heppenstall and Jade Rayner, all 22, were cooling off in the sea.

a group of people in the water © Credits: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror

Teaching assistant Laura, from Settle, North Yorks, said: “I couldn’t cope with sunbathing all day.”

Beaches back home, including Lyme Regis, Dorset, were also packed yesterday. The hottest UK temperature was 32.8C, recorded in Gravesend in Kent and Wisley, Surrey.

Public Health England and the Met Office issued a level 2 heat warning for London, the South East and East Anglia.

PHE’s Emer O’Connell said: “We’re advising people to look out for friends, family and neighbours who may feel the heat more than others.

“People with heart and lung conditions, older people and young children can all struggle in warmer weather.

a close up of a piece of paper © Credits: REX/Shutterstock

“So our advice is look out for others, drink plenty of fluids and, if travelling anywhere, take water with you.”

The public was also warned again of the dangers of swimming in the sea.

Yesterday, a fisherman told how he rescued two young sisters from the sea off Whitstable, Kent, as the tide came in. Richard Foad, 26, said: “I heard a scream but I just thought they were playing. It wasn’t until I looked up and one wasn’t quite swimming properly. I took them back to shore.”

It came just five days after a six-year-old girl drowned in Margate after getting into trouble in the sea.

People crowds La Concha beach in the basque city of San Sebastian, northern Spain, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. Hot air from Africa is bringing a heat wave to Europe, prompting health warnings about Sahara Desert dust and exceptionally high temperatures that could peak at 47 degrees Celsius (117 Fahrenheit) in Spain and Portugal. (AP Photo / Alvaro Barrientos) © AP People crowds La Concha beach in the basque city of San Sebastian, northern Spain, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. Hot air from Africa is bringing a heat wave to Europe, prompting health warnings about Sahara Desert dust and exceptionally high temperatures that could peak at 47 degrees Celsius (117 Fahrenheit) in Spain and Portugal. (AP Photo / Alvaro Barrientos)

Across Cornwall, the RNLI was launched 20 times last week after beachgoers got caught in rip currents.

RNLI’s Steve Instance said: “The sea is dangerous whatever the weather and the bigger swell forecast for the next few days means an increased chance of rip currents.”

The Met Office’s Alex Burkill said temperatures were likely to reach the high 20s and low 30s again in the coming days, adding: “It is not the end of the hot weather or the summer.”

The mercury could climb back to at least 31C in London this weekend, with sunshine for most of the country.

The North, Scotland and Northern Ireland will enjoy temperatures in the mid-20s, with scatterings of rain.

A man sunbathes as others cool off in Tagus River at Ribeira das Naus in Lisbon on August 3, 2018. - Two men died from heatstroke in Spain as Europe sweltered in a record heatwave today, with temperatures hitting a scorching 45 degrees Celsius in some areas and meteorologists saying only scant relief is in sight in the coming days.  The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48 degrees in Athens in 1977, closely followed by 47.3 in Amareleja, Portugal in 2003 as well as in Montoro, Spain last year. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)        (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty A man sunbathes as others cool off in Tagus River at Ribeira das Naus in Lisbon on August 3, 2018. - Two men died from heatstroke in Spain as Europe sweltered in a record heatwave today, with temperatures hitting a scorching 45 degrees Celsius in some areas and meteorologists saying only scant relief is in sight in the coming days. The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48 degrees in Athens in 1977, closely followed by 47.3 in Amareleja, Portugal in 2003 as well as in Montoro, Spain last year. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)

What is the Iberian plume?

The Iberian plume is a furnace-like high pressure system moving in from North Africa which could see record temperatures set in Spain and Portugal this weekend.

It is also set to send temperatures soaring dangerously high in south-west France – another summer holiday hotspot.

The scorching weather, which will effect well over a million Brits living and holidaying on the Iberian peninsula, could range between 40C (104F) and 48C (118F) – or even above in the coming days.

The previous highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48C, in Athens, Greece, in 1977.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the official highest recorded temperature on the planet is 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.

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