By Claire Parker | Washington Post
Forget your exams, go to the pool and make sure to eat. That’s the message French authorities are urgently sending residents, and not just for joie de vivre – but as a matter of life or death.
As a massive heat wave bears down on Europe in coming days, France is hoping to avoid the devastating death toll it suffered in 2003, during the hottest spell in centuries. That July and August, an estimated 70,000 people across Europe died from heat-related causes. Around 15,000 of those deaths occurred in France – and in Paris, morgues overflowed with bodies.
The city has since devised plans to avoid such casualties during surges in temperatures, which scientists say are becoming more common in Europe as a result of climate change. Those plans will be put to the test this week, when temperatures across Europe are expected to rise between 20 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit above normal as hot air from deserts in Spain and the Sahara blows northward.
Temperatures in Germany on Wednesday could smash the existing June record of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit set in Frankfurt in 1947, meteorologists warned. The heat wave is also expected to hit Belgium and Switzerland, and some parts of Sweden and Denmark could see unusually hot days as well.
But the memory of the deadly summer of 2003 weighs most heavily on France, and authorities there have already begun to implement emergency plans.
In France, temperatures from Wednesday through Friday could climb beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Paris has issued an orange alert – it’s second-highest heat warning – for the city and surrounding area.
Authorities announced a number of measures to keep residents cool, including installing temporary water fountains and three portable pools in high-density neighborhoods, keeping swimming pools open until 10:30 p.m. and …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World