Europe heatwave: Rare heat dome unleashes 35C blast on continent as plume heads to UK

BBC Weather warns of ‘big showers and thunderstorms’

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For the rest of the week, parts of France will suffer a heatwave, with temperature records in with a chance of being broken in many areas. Spain and Belgium will also see higher than average temperatures for May, while the UK sees thunderstorms due to a clash of pressure systems.

On Tuesday, the thermometer showed 29.5C in Paris, 29C in Caen and 28C in Lille and Strasbourg.

Temperatures up to 33C were also recorded in Montélimar, 30.5C in Le Mans and 31C in Niort or Lyon.

However, Wednesday should be the hottest day of the week, according to La Chaîne Météo.

In the Drôme, Ardèche and Vaucluse, the expected values should be between 32 and 35C in the afternoon.

Pascal Scaviner, head of the forecasting department of La Chaîne Météo, explained to French news website Le Figaro the meteorological phenomenon is caused by an anomaly in the general circulation of the atmosphere in Western Europe.

It caused the installation of an axis of high pressure coming from Africa carrying a flow of tropical air, which gradually extends in France and goes up towards the North, until Belgium and the Netherlands.

At the same time, at an altitude of 1,500 metres, there is an air mass that is eight degrees higher than average.

Both phenomena cause a lasting increase in temperatures over part of the territory.

While the ‘heat dome’ is not a rare situation, the fact it has occurred in the middle of May is surprising, according to Mr Scaviner.

It comes as Spain sees an “unusual” heatwave with some areas seeing up to 40C.

Wednesday sees Albacete, Badajoz, Bilbao, Ciudad Real, Girona, Granada, Huesca, Jaén, Lleida, Logroño, Seville, Toledo and Zaragoza all reach temperatures between 34C and 36C.

Meanwhile Almería, Cáceres, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Madrid, Pamplona and Teruel will reach between 32C and 33C.

Ruben Del Campo, spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), explained on Thursday temperatures could be between “5 and 10 degrees above normal in most of the peninsula, and between 10 and 15 degrees in the central part of the country”.

From Friday, the very high maximums, between 10 and 15 degrees above normal, “will affect almost the entire territory” and it is possible that that day will exceed 40 degrees in cities like Jaen, Cordoba, Seville, Granada and Ciudad Real.


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Meanwhile, in Belgium, temperatures will rise to 24C in upper Belgium and 28C elsewhere on Wednesday, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute’s (RMI) morning bulletin.

At the coast, however, a sea breeze will prevent it from rising above 20C.

The day will be fairly sunny with medium to high cloud fields and some cumuliform clouds. It will be dry over most areas.

The cloud cover will thicken during the night and a few showers, possibly thundery, will be possible over western and central Belgium. The weather will remain dry in the east.

The UK, while also affected by the heat plume, is set for thunderstorms and spells of rain.

Jo Farrow, forecaster, wrote for the agency’s website: “South-eastern England looks most at risk from the thunderstorms with frequent lightning, torrential rain, gusty winds and hail possible.

“This could lead to localised flooding where drainage systems are suddenly overwhelmed, but the storms are moving through, not stationary which often causes most of the problems.

“The main bulk of very warm, humid air is over France yet this is a bit more of a threat than the usual skirting/clipping SE England thunderstorm risk.

“There is wider showery rain forecast over England which will include some heavy downpours tonight and the higher potential of severe weather for SE Britain.

“We have the cold front from the west later today, the very warm humid air over France, a shortwave trough approaching southern England this evening and aiding a pulse of the very warm air towards SE England.”

Additional reporting from Maria Ortega

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