Most of western and central Europe is on track to experience a dangerous heat wave over the next week, allowing temperatures to soar up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above average for several days beginning on Wednesday. This level of heat is extremely dangerous in this part of the world due to the lack of air conditioning in many homes across the region.
As we saw this past weekend in the western part of North America and the two weeks before that in the southeastern United States, a ridge of high pressure will be the cause of all the trouble. This time around, the ridge is developing in between two troughs—a classic example of a feature called an Omega Block, if you’re thirsting for nerdspeak today—and every location caught under the center of the Omega Block is in for a rough couple of days.
This deep ridge will allow the heat and humidity to settle in through the weekend at the least, and the temperatures will be toasty.
The above animation shows where this morning’s run of the GFS model places high temperatures each day from Wednesday through Sunday, illustrating how the heat wave will migrate east through Europe each day. The worst temperatures on the continent will unfold over the Iberian Peninsula, with highs well above 100°F likely just about each day during the major heat wave.
Elsewhere, The Weather Channel predicts that Paris will reach 100°F three times over the coming days: 103°F on Wednesday, 100°F on Friday, and 101°F on Saturday. The Blue Behemoth also expects Brussels to hit 99°F on Saturday, with heat cranking up across Germany starting on Thursday. Highs in Cologne will top out in the upper 90s Thursday and Friday, cracking the century mark with 102°F possible on Saturday. You can convert all of these temperatures into inferior Celsius using this calculator, if you’re so inclined.
It’s not going to be a dry heat, either—humidity levels will make the heat take an even greater toll on people living in the region. High levels of moisture in the air prevents sweat from evaporating from your skin efficiently, keeping you from cooling off. A humid 95°F is more dangerous than a dry 95°F in most cases because you can’t cool down as easily in the former.
Now, in a country where we’re used to playing meteorological superlatives to assert dominance over one another—you think it’s hot HERE? my house in Arizona hit 175°F yesterday, no lie!!!—calling temperatures in the 90s a “significant heat wave” seems like an exaggeration for the ages. However, many homes in Europe aren’t air conditioned due to the region’s tendency to see cooler, more managable summers.
A lack of air conditioning makes one day of intense heat unbearable to vulnerable groups (such as the elderly or those with medical conditions), but days of sustained heat is even worse. Brutally hot days and warm nights prevents buildings from cooling down at night, allowing the dangerous warmth to compound each day of the heat wave. It’s not unheard of for many thousands of people to die during heat waves in Europe, though this one isn’t quite as strong as some other record-breaking periods of heat like we’ve seen in recent years.
[Images: Tropical Tidbits, WeatherBELL]