A powerful “heat dome” is set to sweep Europe next week, bringing with it extreme temperatures and an increased risk of potentially devastating wildfires across multiple countries.
Spain, Portugal and the south of France are all tipped to be caught up in the formidable heat, Express.co.uk understands, which acts like a boiling pot with a lid keeping temperatures soaring high.
The heat dome will reach its peak early next week, experts predict.
Weather experts say the level of heat, combined with low levels of rain in the affected areas create the perfect conditions for wildfires that could quickly get out of control in the tourist hotspots.
Jim Dale, Founder and Senior Meteorological Consultant at British Weather Services, explained that the heat dome has been around for the last eight weeks or more and has come “from the Sahara, across Algeria and Morocco.”
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The term heat dome is used when a broad area of high-pressure parks over a large portion of the continent, and usually stays there for several consecutive days or even weeks.
Mr Dale told Express.co.uk the heat dome covers a much larger area than a heat spike, in this case encompassing Spain, Portugal, and the south of France, before moving “slightly further east”. It will begin to hit this weekend starting on Friday, he said.
It will then be pushed by cooler air from the UK and France towards Turkey and Cyprus.
The weather event compounds on existing heat in those areas, acting like an oven. Mr Dale said: “It’s difficult to lose what you might call the ambient air, the air that’s naturally there. It stays hot, and then you get these plumes with these domes that come across, it just intensifies everything that’s already there.”
Met Office Expert Operational Meteorologist, Rebekah Sherwin, told Express.co.uk: “High pressure will build across southern Europe over the next few days allowing a steady increase in temperatures.
“The region will see higher than average temperatures returning over the next week, with temperatures expected to be 5-10C above average in places (into the high 30s or possibly low 40s Celsius).” The areas will stay in the 20sC overnight, she added.
While Ms Sherwin said the heatwave is not “as extreme” as the previous heatwave event, she added: “These temperatures are at a level that could have some impacts on human health as well as have the potential to cause impacts to infrastructure such as power disruption.”
The heat dome carries with it an increased risk of wildfires.
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Mr Dale said it is “hard to be absolute” about the possibility of wildfires, but “the risk is simply because we are not looking at huge amounts of rainfall anywhere in those zones.”
“Generally speaking, it’s dry, crispy ground conditions, vegetation that with a bit of wind will make for the potential for wildfires to break out,” he said.
He said areas such as Portugal and Spain are becoming “slowly but surely, far more desert like in the summer period.”
The weather expert added that the wind will be the “devil” for these places if wildfires do take hold. “Once the winds get going, if there’s no drenching rain involved, then you get a wildfire.”
However, the fact that the heat dome will not reach the UK does not make us unlucky – nor does it mean we should be complacent about the dangers of climate change.
Mr Dale said of the impact on the UK: “We’re getting the rubbish end, if you like.
“People are thinking well, where’s the big deal about this? We’re in a temperate zone. Well, to be honest with you, we’ve been lucky.
“People think we’ve been unlucky. But our land is green and pleasant for a reason. What would you really prefer – slightly mixed changeable weather, or 45 degrees baking hot and no water?”
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