A heat wave that has claimed at least two lives triggered extreme heat warnings across southern and central Europe on Friday, as temperatures soared above 104°F (40°C).

The temperature was so extreme in parts of Italy on Friday that even as the sun began to set on the region, heat remained above 100°F, AccuWeather European forecaster Tyler Roys said. Extreme heat and dry conditions are expected to continue through Thursday and Friday of next week, depending on the region, he said.

heat in europe

Areas of Europe shaded in red on the map show regions for which extreme heat warnings have been issues. The heat in those areas is considered dangerous and a significant threat to human health.


The heat wave, dubbed “Lucifer” by Italian media, is in its fourth day and is one of the longest Europe has experienced since 2003, when extreme heat contributed to the deaths of 70,000. This week’s heat killed one person in Romania and another in Poland. The European extreme weather warning system Meteoalarm issued heat warnings for 10 countries in southern and Eastern Europe, according to news reports.

Italy and the Balkans are expected to see the highest temperatures. The extreme heat warnings for parts of Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and neighboring nations were dire: “The weather is very dangerous. Exceptionally intense meteorological phenomena have been forecast. Major damage and accidents are likely, in many cases with threat to life and limb, over a wide area.”

The heat wave is part of a long-term drought in southern Europe, where wildfires are burning throughout Italy and the Balkans, including 75 in Albania, according to Global Forest Watch.

Rome hasn’t seen rain since the end of June and received only 9 percent of its normal precipitation that month, according to AccuWeather.

“When you have reports that the fountains in Rome and the Vatican are being turned off, that never happens. It is at a critical level,” Roys said, referring to the drought.

Scorching heat waves in Europe are becoming more common because of climate change. Climate Central research shows that human greenhouse gas emissions have caused the earth to warm nearly 2°F (1°C) over the past century, influencing the severity of extreme heat waves in Europe and elsewhere.

Climate change has doubled the likelihood of lethal extreme summer heat waves in Europe each year, and they’re expected to become even more common this century as a result of global warming.

The nearly 2°F of warming has influenced record heat across 80 percent of the globe in recent years, said Noah Diffenbaugh, an earth systems science professor at Stanford University.

“Severe heat in Europe is one of the types of extreme events and regions of the world where we have some of the strongest evidence that extremes are increasing and global warming is playing a role,” he said. “We have very high confidence that further global warming will further increase the occurrence of severe heat and occurrence of record heat.”

In addition to threatening lives and spreading wildfires, this summer’s heat wave is also threatening Italy’s wine crop, Reuters reported. Wine growers there are harvesting their grapes early to prevent them from baking in the sun.