Things are heating up for Quebecers in Europe

Çit's heating up for Quebecers in Europe

and Erika Aubin UPDATE DAY

Quebecers on vacation are feeling the repercussions of sweltering heat waves in Europe, while the mercury reached record heat in several countries on Tuesday. 

“We reduce our days to do fewer activities. There is no question of taking long walks either,” says Judith Letarte, on a trip to Paris and London with her mother and three children.

With both feet in the suffocating heat, many Quebecers abroad had to revise their plans for the day to juggle the temperature.

“We didn’t dare try the metro. There are warnings to avoid taking it or bringing bottled water as there is no air circulation,” adds Ms Letarte.

In the UK , the mercury rose to an all-time high of 40.2C by late morning in west London, the Met Office said. 

Same story in France, where several cities have exceeded 42°C. 

“It’s too hot here. […] No hotel has air conditioning. Our hotel room in Oxford didn't have one either and we suffered heat shock,” says Victoria Vu, who is touring England with her partner and two children. 

Looking for air conditioning

In Belgium, where thermometers could climb up to 40°C, major museums opened their doors free of charge to the elderly to allow them to cool off, while the country also feared records. 

Visiting family in Normandy, 14-year-old Lisa Le Bigot dedicated her day on Tuesday to trying to cool down by all means. 

Without air conditioning and without a fan , the Montreal teenager alternated between ice packs, a fan and cold showers. 

“It's very, very hard. Sleeping is really unpleasant. There is no place in the house that is cool. We try to do as little activity as possible and stay hydrated,” she says. her thermometer read 45.6°C on Tuesday morning. 

“You shouldn't go outside because there's only hot wind that doesn't cool you down,” she continues before looking forward to going to the grocery store to take advantage of the air conditioning.

Heat and laziness

One of the problems, says Quebecer Jérémy Aubre, who has lived in Toulouse for more than 15 years, is that the accommodation is not adapted to extreme temperatures and let the heat in. 

“It often gets hot, but not for as long. […] We all become incredibly lazy. We postpone tasks, such as cleaning, until tomorrow even if it is absurd, because it will still be so hot, ”he explains. 

Forest fires in France, Spain and Portugal also caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

– With the AFP 

A worrying ozone pollution

The current heat wave and drought in Europe are exacerbating ozone pollution, the European climate change service Copernicus warned on Tuesday. It is an important greenhouse gas and a component of urban smog, which harms human health both in terms of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to inhibiting photosynthesis in plants.

< p>High surface ozone levels can cause sore throats, coughs, headaches and an increased risk of asthma attacks, according to scientist Mark Parrington. This gas is also a major concern for agricultural regions and food security.

Scientists have already detected “extremely high surface ozone pollution” across western and southern Europe, including over the Iberian Peninsula and parts of northern Italy.

< h3>Heat records in 64 municipalities

Absolute heat records were broken in 64 municipalities on Monday, at the peak of the heat wave hitting France, according to Météo France. They were recorded mainly along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the small town of Biscarrosse, in the south-west of the country, the mercury approached 42.6°C.

But even more, the amplitude of the differences between the old and some of the new records is particularly significant, as heat waves multiply and intensify under the effects of climate change.

In the south-west of the country, two massive fires have also destroyed entire swaths of forest as well as campsites.

2000 firefighters

In Portugal, more than 2,000 firefighters continued to fight the fires on Tuesday. The two most worrying wildfires are in the far north of the country. One of them alone mobilized nearly 800 firefighters and led to the evacuation of three villages. A couple in their 70s lost their lives trying to flee the blaze. 

Two Quebecers currently on vacation in this country told the Journalhaving seen part of the damage on the road between Évora and Porto.

“We drove for kilometers and we saw the white floors, as if they were covered in ash. It's so dry here, not a drop of rain has fallen,” Julie Sylvestre described.

While they were in the southernmost region of the Algarve, their car posted up to 43°C at the hottest.

More than 40,000 evacuees

Forest fires in Spain and France caused by the extreme heat wave have led to the emergency evacuation of more than 40,000 people in the past few days. Around 37,000 fled Gironde, a department in southwestern France, and 6,000 of them had to leave the province of Zamora, in northwestern Spain.

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