As Greece wilts under a prolonged heatwave that is expected to extend well into next week, a prominent meteorologist has issued a warning that the country is about to experience its hottest July weekend in half a century.
Government ministries have counselled people to put in as much time as they can to work from home and avoid going out of their homes unless it is essential. Because of the exceptionally high temperatures, many of the most popular tourist destinations will be closed during the day’s hottest hours.
“This weekend risks being the hottest registered in July in the past 50 years,” Panagiotis Giannopoulos, a meteorologist with state broadcaster ERT, said on Friday. ERT is a state-run television and radio station.
Temperatures in Athens are expected to remain above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next six to seven days, all the way through the month of July.
It is highly unusual for the capital of Greece to experience such a protracted period of sweltering heat.
On Sunday, the temperature in the city could reach as high as 44 degrees Celsius (111 degrees Fahrenheit), while the central region of Thessalia could hit 45 degrees.
On the island of Evia in the centre of Greece, it was reported that a man in his forties had passed away from heatstroke after being taken to the Chalkida hospital. The hospital stated that cardio-respiratory failure after being exposed to high temperatures looked to be the reason for the man’s death.
The national meteorological institute EMY previously reported temperatures of 41 degrees Celsius at Attica, which encompasses Athens, while it forecasted temperatures of up to 44 degrees Celsius in Thessalia.
Firefighters, supported by air-water bombers and reinforcements from many countries like Cyprus, France, Israel, and Italy, are working hard to contain a wildfire that is burning forestland west of Athens. On Friday, the fire burned forestland for the fifth day in a row, and it has caused the destruction of buildings and forced people to evacuate.
More than one hundred homes and places of business have suffered significant damage as a result of the fire and another blaze that occurred close to Athens and was extinguished earlier in the week by the authorities.
On Friday, firefighters were successful in putting out two further fires that were burning in Greece’s Lakonia district and on the island of Rhodes.
The Ministry of Culture announced that architectural sites, including the Acropolis in Athens, which is a world heritage site, would be closed from noon to 5.30 p.m. local time till Sunday.
The Ministry of Health asked people to stay inside unless it was absolutely essential, while the Ministry of Labor encouraged people to do as much of their work as they could from the comfort of their own homes.
According to Minister of Civil Protection Vassilis Kikilias, who was speaking with ERT, “We have three difficult days ahead of us.” “We must be vigilant.”
According to the Athens national observatory, the city of Athens reached an all-time high temperature of 44.8 degrees Celsius (112.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in June of 2007, while the nearby city of Elefsina recorded a national record of 48 degrees Celsius (118.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in July of 1977.
Greece is just one of many nations around the world that has been struggling to survive an extended period of extremely high temperatures in recent days.
A meteorologist working for the private broadcasting company Mega, Yannis Kallianos, described the current heatwave as “interminable and powerful.”
“The heatwave could last until next Thursday or Friday,” he warned, adding that strong northerly winds could also cause fires. “According to the latest forecasts, the heatwave could last until next Thursday or Friday.”
Authorities reported that firefighters were still battling 79 forest fires around the country, and a spokesman for the authorities, Vassilios Vathrakoyannis, stated that Greece will be on high alert over the weekend.