France is braced for a heatwave with temperatures forecast to exceed 40C this week – potentially breaking the record for June.
Temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees or more on Monday, and climb even further until the peak on Thursday and Friday.
The north of the country – including Paris – will be worst affected.
Meteorologists say that high humidity will make 40C feel like 47C in the capital.
France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium could all see national records for June broken in the coming days.
A weather system over the Atlantic is creating high atmospheric pressure over the region, drawing up hot air from northern Africa and Spain, raising temperatures.
Comparisons are being drawn to the heat wave France experienced in 2003 – in which the top three temperatures ever recorded were all set, topping out at 44.1C on 12 August. Almost 15,000 people died during that heatwave.
France’s national forecaster, Meteo France, is warning that temperatures may not fall until the following weekend – even at night, when lowest temperatures are expected to remain above 20C in many places.
Large cities are particularly vulnerable, the weather service warned.
The city of Paris has activated its “level three” extreme heat plan – level four, the maximum, has never been used.
Part of that plan involves designating some 900 “cool places” that have lower temperatures than the surrounding city streets – such as parks, air-conditioned public halls, and areas where temporary fountains and mist machines have been set up. The city is also keeping an extra 13 parks open at night for people to cool down in.
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In Spain, weather agency Aemet is predicting temperatures of above 35C in large parts of the country, and above 40C in the centre – and 42C in the valleys of Ebro, Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir. Holidaymakers in Mallorca or the Canary Islands can also expect 35C temperatures.
Germany is also predicting temperatures in the mid-30s in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and other cities – with a forecast 38C for the capital by Thursday.
The building heat in Britain, on the other hand, is expected to cause thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday.