Jul 25, 2019

Heat wave smashes temperature records across Europe

Paris
France
by
James McAuley and Andrew Freedman
,
Washington Post
Cooling down at the fountains of Trocadero, near the Eiffel Tower, on a day of record heat in Paris on July 25. Photo: Julien De Rosa, EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Cooling down at the fountains of Trocadero, near the Eiffel Tower, on a day of record heat in Paris on July 25. Photo: Julien De Rosa, EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A historic heat wave inflicted life-threatening temperatures on Europe and shattered all-time highs in multiple countries Thursday.

Paris registered a jaw-dropping 108.7 degrees, according to Météo-France, the national weather service, breaking the record of 104.7 degrees set in 1947.

Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands all saw new national records Thursday, beating highs set just the day before — with the Netherlands exceeding 104 degrees for the first time on record.

Britain came just shy of its record. The Met Office in Cambridge, England, measured 100.6 degrees Thursday. And London experienced its hottest July day on record, with a temperature of 100.2.

Those temperatures may not seem shocking by the standards of many regions in the United States, but in Europe, where air conditioning is relatively uncommon, they can be deadly.

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In Europe on Thursday, the impact of climate change was felt intimately.

In Paris, the heat radiated from the pavement and the city’s iconic stone facades. In an experiment, it took 10 minutes for a chocolate Eiffel Tower to melt in the sun.

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In much of Europe, air conditioning has been seen as a luxury, and even a U.S.-style indulgence. Fewer than 5 percent of European households have air conditioning, compared with 90 percent in the United States. But that may change as episodes of punishing heat become the new normal.