The Italian island of Sicily yesterday reported what would be the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe––the mercury reaching a sizzling 48.8ºC (119.8ºF).
Syracuse, a city on the island’s southeast coast, unofficially beat the previous highest temperature of 48ºC (118.4ºF), recorded in Athens in 1977.
The temperature is still to be independently confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which will need to verify the recording for it to become a new European temperature record. Many other Mediterranean countries have recorded their highest temperatures in decades.
A severe #heatwave continues to affect much of the Mediterranean and north Africa 📈
— Met Office (@metoffice) August 11, 2021
An anticyclone––nicknamed Lucifer––moving north from Africa is causing the heatwave in Italy. An anticyclone is an area of high atmospheric pressure where the air is sinking.
The Italian government has issued red alerts for extreme heat in several regions, and the number of cities that face the highest risk is expected to double by Friday.
The heatwave has fuelled huge wildfires that have ripped through Italy, Greece, Algeria, and Turkey.