Thursday, July 27, 2006
Record Heat Wilts Europe, Strains Power Supply and Hurts Crops
By THOMAS CRAMPTON
Published: July 27, 2006
PARIS, July 26 — With Paris, London and Berlin experiencing peak temperatures, matching those of Bangkok, Hong Kong and New Delhi, Europe’s heat wave this summer has already headed for the record books. The severe and prolonged heat has prompted the authorities across Europe to issue advice on everything from personal safety to power use.
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Russia and the Post-Soviet Nations
Russia and the Post-Soviet Nations
Wide-ranging coverage of Russia and the former Soviet republics, updated by The Times's Moscow bureau.
A 1911 record for the highest July temperature in Britain was broken last week when Wisley, a village in Surrey, hit 97.7 degrees.
Mark Vance, an entertainer at Warwick Castle who wears a full suit of armor and was named the man with the hottest job in Britain by The Daily Express, was photographed frying an egg on the breastplate of his outfit.
In the Netherlands, July will probably qualify as the hottest month since temperatures were first measured in 1706, the Dutch meteorological institute, KNMI, said Tuesday.
Many parts of Germany have hit the highest July temperatures since records began to be kept.
The French health minister, Xavier Bertrand, urged that medical students and retired doctors volunteer for hospital work as more than half the country was placed under the second-highest level of heat-wave alert.
Most of the 40 heat-related deaths in Europe in the last two weeks were in France, recalling the 2003 heat wave, in which 15,000 died in the country.
“The temperatures have not been so high in France as they were in the first weeks of August 2003, but the heat wave has lasted much longer,” said Bernard Strauss, head of forecasting for M�t�o-France. “In the last six weeks we have had one of the longest stretches of higher than normal temperatures since we started records.”
Temperatures along the west of France will probably rise in coming weeks, Mr. Strauss added.
The newspaper Le Parisien dedicated five pages to the heat wave, including tips for keeping cool, like wetting feet and hands as often as possible while walking the city.
A second type of warning was also issued in Europe — about strained electricity supplies, along with destroyed crops and forest fires.
Europe’s increased demand for air-conditioning could make summer a greater challenge than winter for electricity suppliers, a report by the Datamonitor Group warned.
Nuclear power stations in France and Spain have been forced to cut output because the river water normally used to cool reactors is too warm.
Low water levels in the Po River in northern Italy affected hydroelectric supplies, prompting power shortages in Rome that knocked out air-conditioning and left people trapped in elevators.
Scorching temperatures and drought could destroy up to 20 percent of Poland’s grain harvest, warned the country’s agriculture minister, Andrzej Lepper. “It is quite simply dramatic, and if the weather does not change we could have a disaster,” he said on Polish Radio.
Germany is facing crop losses of up to 50 percent in the worst-hit regions, according to Gerd Sonnleitner, the president of the national farmers association.
Forest fires affected regions as far afield as Corsica, in the Mediterranean, where homes near the capital, Ajaccio, were threatened, and the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden.