People sunbathe on a beach in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018. Much of Spain is on alert as the country's weather agency warns that temperatures could surpass 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) due to a hot air mass moving northward from the African continent. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Hot African air brings scorching heat, dust to Europe

August 02, 2018 - 11:21 am

MADRID (AP) — Hot air from Africa is bringing a new heatwave to Europe, prompting health warnings about Sahara Desert dust and exceptionally high temperatures that are forecast to peak at 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit) in some southern areas.

The torrid weather meant that public services were put on alert in Spain and Portugal. Temperatures were forecast to reach 44 degrees (111 Fahrenheit) Thursday in the Portuguese city of Evora, 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of the capital of Lisbon, and in the Spanish province of Badajoz, across the border.

A hot air mass was moving northward from Africa, authorities said, warning that the mercury could peak at 47 degrees Celsius this weekend in the southern Portuguese town of Beja.

Portuguese authorities issued a nationwide health warning, including for dust from the Sahara Desert. Warnings were also issued for 40 of Spain's 50 provinces.

Up north in Sweden, the country's official tallest point is set to change amid record temperatures.

Scientists said a glacier on Mount Kebne, the Scandinavian country's highest peak at 2,111 meters (6,925 feet, 10 inches), is melting and is no longer Sweden's tallest point.

Gunhild Rosqvist, a Stockholm University professor in geography, said the glacier lost four meters (13 feet, 2 ½ inches) of snow in July alone as Sweden endured record temperatures that triggered dozens of wildfires, even in the Arctic Circle.

In neighboring Finland, a supermarket came up with a novel way of escaping the heat. The K-Supermarket said on its Facebook page that patrons hoping to cool down could sleep overnight in its air-conditioned store in Helsinki.

Homes in Finland are designed to handle the extreme cold and damp typical of the Nordic region, not the recent high temperatures.

In eastern Europe, Poland endured unusually high temperatures up to 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit), forcing its power plants to go into emergency mode to increase output due to the wide use of air conditioning and electric fans.

In the streets of Warsaw, the Polish capital, authorities placed cooling water installations around and advised people to stay indoors. Dozens of the country's Baltic Sea beaches have "no swimming" warnings due to health risks from algae blooms.

Farmers across the continent were battling the effects of drought, so the European Union offered to speed up funds to help them cope. German farmers have already asked their government for 1 billion euros ($1.17 billion) in financial aid to help cover losses from this year's poor harvest.

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AP correspondents across Europe contributed to this report.

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