Publication Date August 6, 2017

Mercury in Europe hits 40 degrees as deadly ‘Lucifer’ heatwave prompts severe weather warnings

A firefighting aircraft dumps its load on a forest fire in the town of Castagniers near Nice, southern France. Photo: EPA

No wonder it’s being dubbed “Lucifer”. A relentless heatwave that has gripped parts of Europe has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, causing at least five deaths and prompting authorities to issue ­severe weather warnings.

Unusually high, sometimes unprecedented temperatures, are being recorded across an area spanning much of Spain and ­Portugal, southern France, Italy, the Balkans and Hungary.

The mercury in Europe has regularly risen above 40 degrees Celsius across the affected areas, exacerbating the impact of an extended drought and the lingering impact of a July heatwave which sparked wildfires that claimed 60 lives in Portugal.

In Romania, two deaths were linked to the weather, including a farmworker who collapsed after working in fields in the northeast of the country.

Spanish ­television station TVE reported that a 51-year-old man died as a result of the heat on the Mediterranean island of Majorca.

In Italy, at least three people have died. The latest victim was a woman whose car was swept away by an avalanche of water and mud as humid conditions near the Alpine ski resort of ­Cortina d’Ampezzo broke into torrential rain. That tragedy followed the deaths last Thursday of two ­pensioners caught in wildfires in the central region of Abruzzo and near Matera in the south of the country.


Humidity and other factors are making it feel much hotter with the so-called perceived temperature in Campania, the region around Naples, ­estimated at a ferocious 55 Celsius on Friday.

Hospital admissions are ­running 15-20 per cent above ­seasonal norms and food producers are forecast to suffer billions of euros in losses as a result of ­reduced crop yields.

Italian wine and olive production is tipped to fall 15 and 30 per cent respectively this year.