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Italy reports hottest day in 260 years; France sets new heatwave records

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A boy pours water over his head to cool off at a fountain in Italy. — AFP
A boy pours water over his head to cool off at a fountain in Italy. — AFP

Italy’s Milan has recorded its highest temperature in 260 years, while France experienced its warmest late-summer day on record this week raising concerns over the heatwave crisis as a result of climate change in Europe.

The Milano Brera weather station recorded an average of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, the highest since it started registering temperatures in 1763.

The nationwide average temperature over 24 hours hit 27.8 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) on Thursday 24 August, Meteo France announced, the most intense heat ever measured after 15 August in records going back to 1947.

That record had been breached four days in a row, Meteo France added.

The northern Italian city’s previous record, of 32.8 degrees, was set in 2003.

Milan also recorded the highest minimum temperature on Thursday at 28.9 degrees Celcius, the state’s weather agency ARPA said.

ARPA added that the Italian Alps have also been hit by “intense and abnormal” temperatures, but said the heatwave is about to break, with heavy thunderstorms expected in the next few days.

France’s previous record had been set only on Tuesday as a “heat dome” bore down on much of the country, hitting the southern half and Mediterranean coast especially hard.

But conditions were already easing on Friday, with high temperatures giving way to summer storms across parts of France.

None of the 96 departments in mainland France and Corsica were on the maximum red alert level for heat at the end of the week, compared with 17 on Thursday.

Temperatures of up to 39 C were nevertheless expected in the south.

Emissions of greenhouse gases are enabling increasingly intense and long-lasting heatwaves, especially in Europe, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says is the world´s fastest-warming continent.

Heatwaves are among the deadliest natural hazards, with hundreds of thousands of people dying from preventable heat-related causes each year.

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