Europe's Heat Wave Captured by Tempest Weather Network
The Tempest Network tracked the heat wave as it scorched Europe, bringing record-breaking temperatures and a host of weather-related incidents.
WHAT IS A HEAT WAVE?
In general, a heat wave is a period of unusually hot weather lasting more than two days. There is no universal scale for ranking heat waves, and most countries have their own guidelines and thresholds for categorizing a heat wave. However, Seville, Spain, recently launched a pilot program to name and rank heat waves similarly to hurricanes, while several cities in the United States have launched similar pilot programs for ranking heat waves.
Heat waves may cover a large area, exposing people to hazardous heat capable of causing heatstroke, exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses. In addition to the impact of heat on human health, heat waves also intensify drought conditions, increasing the risk of wildfires. Extreme high temperatures can also impact critical infrastructure, including transportation, utilities, and agriculture. For example, workers in London wrapped the historic Hammersmith Bridge in silver insulation foil to protect the cast-iron spans from cracking, while an hour away at Luton Airport, flights were suspended due to excessive heat damage to the runway.
HOW HOT WAS THE HEAT WAVE IN EUROPE?
In France, temperatures soared to 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), while Wales reported a new all-time high, and Ireland registered its highest air temperature in over a century. On Tuesday, July 19, the UK reported its hottest day on record, with temperatures hitting 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit (40.3 degrees Celsius) in the east of England.
WHAT CAUSED THE HEAT WAVE IN EUROPE?
The heat wave in Europe was caused in large part by a large zone of low-pressure atmospheric circulation over Europe that was blocked (stuck) for several days. Low-pressure zones often draw air toward them. In this case, the low-pressure zone was cut off from steering currents west of Portugal, drawing hot, dry air from northern Africa and funneling it northward into Western Europe.
The block lasted two days (July 18 & 19), when the pattern finally shifted and brought in more normal temperatures on July 20th. While the block and associated high temperatures can occur regardless of human influence, global warming likely enabled temperatures to become as extreme as they were.
UK Met Office Chief Scientist Stephen Belcher explained, “In a climate unaffected by human influence, climate modeling shows that it is virtually impossible for temperatures in the UK to reach 40°C. Climate change, driven predominantly by accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, has warmed the average climate by more than 1°C. So, when we see atmospheric circulation patterns conspiring with the background warming, we experience even hotter conditions.”
THE TEMPEST NETWORK
The Tempest Network is made up of more than 40,000 Tempest Weather Systems around the world. While Tempest is currently only available within North America, international customers can sign up to be notified when it is available to ship in their region. Those who sign up may get early access to international sales tests.