Heat wave fears set in around the world
China Daily Global

A girl cools off in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Wednesday. Authorities have issued a weather warning as the Balkan country faces extreme high temperatures of over 43 C. [BORIS GRDANOSKI/AP]

SKOPJE, North Macedonia-Authorities in several southeast European countries have issued weather warnings in anticipation of a heat wave in the region on Thursday that is set to push temperatures to as high as 43 C in inland areas.

Public health officials in North Macedonia on Wednesday said all six of the country's administrative regions would be affected by the emergency and urged a pause in construction work and called for municipal-level initiatives to help the elderly and the homeless.

High temperatures are expected throughout the weekend in North Macedonia and neighboring Albania, Bulgaria and Greece, as well as parts of Romania and Serbia.

In Albania's central Dimal region, temperatures reached 42 C on Wednesday. In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, municipal workers handed out free bottles of water at several locations in the city. Trucks were sent to water drying-out sections of public parks and gardens.

Municipal authorities in Athens began providing air-conditioned spaces to the public this week, and advised residents to remain indoors during the midday and early afternoon. Athens has also appointed a chief heat officer, becoming the first European capital to do so.

Athens is part of a European network of cities created to combat the effects of high temperatures, alongside Paris, Rotterdam, Glasgow and Seville.

"We've been talking about global warming for decades, but we haven't talked much about heat," said Eleni Myrivili, Athens' chief heat officer.

"I look forward to raising awareness among the citizens of Athens about the grave dangers of extreme heat and helping decision-makers take action to cool the city and protect people and their communities."

Raging wildfires

Wildfires raged for a second day in southern Greece, forcing evacuations in a mountainous area outside the western port city of Patras. Smoke from the fire was visible in the center of the city. Forest fires were also reported in Bulgaria and Albania.

In southern Turkey, a massive forest fire spread to the town of Manavgat as the flames were fanned by strong winds on Wednesday, according to the local mayor, and TV footage showed residents running for their cars as streets were engulfed in smoke.

Footage showed plumes of black smoke rising from the forest around Manavgat, 75 kilometers east of the resort city of Antalya, and Mayor Sukru Sozen said flames had spread as far as the town center.

A recent State of the UK Climate report by climate scientists stated that recent decades in Britain have been warmer, wetter and sunnier than in the last century, with last year being the third warmest on record.

The report is based on observations of temperature, precipitation, sunshine and wind speed from the United Kingdom's land weather station network managed by the Met Office.

The report points to how Britain's climate is already changing as experts warn that extreme weather events, such as floods, heat waves and droughts, will increase across the world due to the effects of global warming.

The year 2020 was the third warmest after 2014 and 2006, and the fifth wettest and eighth sunniest on record for the UK.

This month, an unprecedented heat wave sent temperatures soaring in Canada and wildfires raging across the US northwest and southwestern Canada.

In the United States, a historic drought and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the west. Scientists said climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years, and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Cooler weather and even rain helped fight some of the largest blazes this week, but fire officials warned that hotter, drier weather was returning.

Agencies via Xinhua