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Heat bakes southern Europe with warnings to stay inside, drink water, limit exercise

Jul 17, 2023, 4:39 AM | Updated: 1:38 pm

Two people in the heat in Italy outside the colosseum...

Tourists stops in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Monday, July 17, 2023. Tourist flock to the eternal city while scorching temperatures grip central Italy with Rome at the top of the red alert list as one of the hottest cities in the country. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) — Italian health officials intensified heat warnings as southern Europe began a brutally hot week on Monday with temperatures expected to top 40 C — or 104 F — on a continent already overburdened by tourists.

The health ministry issued 10 recommendations to protect elderly people, the sick and pets from the heat, urging people to stay indoors during the hottest hours, drink at least 1.5 liters (nearly half a gallon) of water a day and refrain from strenuous exercise at peak daylight times. The culprit was a high-pressure anticyclone dubbed Cerberus, the multi-headed dog that guards gates to the underworld in Greek mythology.

Local celebrities went on state-run RAI television to read the recommendations aloud, in hopes of spreading the message.

The third heatwave in a month was expected to affect much of the Mediterranean and last until Wednesday.

The mercury in Rome hit 35 C (95 F) just before noon Monday and was forecast to near 40 C (104 F) in the afternoon. Italy’s capital city was expected to be even hotter on Tuesday, as were several other cities in particular in Sardinia and Sicily.

Power outages were hitting parts of Rome as electric grids suffered under heavier demand from air conditioners as people sought relief. Italian farm lobby Coldiretti, meanwhile, issued an alarm about the plight of domestic and farm animals, noting that cows are producing around 10% less milk as a result of the heat.

Elsewhere in Spain, a wildfire that started Saturday on the Canary island of La Palma continued to burn out-of-control Monday, although authorities says weaker winds and cooler temperatures in the area are helping firefighters combat it. The blaze has burned some 4,600 hectares (11,300 acres) of mostly woody hill land and some 20 houses and buildings.

More than 4,000 residents were evacuated from their homes Saturday but were allowed to return as of late Sunday.

Spain’s Aemet weather agency said the heat wave this week “will affect a large part of the countries bordering the Mediterranean“ with temperatures in some southern areas of Spain exceeding 42 C (107 F).

The agency says it expects temperatures to drop sometime Wednesday.

Spokesman Rubén del Campo said an anticyclone is pushing a hot mass of air from Africa towards Spain and other Mediterranean countries. The agency predicts that with the heat and very dry air, the risk of wildfires will skyrocket.


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Heat bakes southern Europe with warnings to stay inside, drink water, limit exercise