Trisha Shetty (Editor)

2007 European heat wave

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2007 European heat wave

The 2007 European heatwave was a heat wave that affected most of Southern Europe and the Balkans. The phenomenon began affecting Italy and Turkey on June 17 and expanded into Greece and the rest of the Balkans, Hungary and Ukraine on June 18.


June 2007

Up until June 21, temperatures generally hovered around 36°C-39°C (96.8°F-102.2°F) in most of the aforementioned countries; however, starting on June 22, temperatures skyrocketed in this entire region. From this point on Greece, Italy, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey experienced record-breaking temperatures in a situation unprecedented even for these nations, typically used to conditions of extreme heat.

During the weekend of June 23–24 and on June 25, temperatures soared to 43°C-44°C. By June 26, however, Greece seemed to bear the brunt of the heatwave with temperatures in Athens reaching 46.2°C (115.1°F) and with demand for electricity reaching unprecedented levels, (mainly due to an excessive use of air conditioners). As a result, the entire system nearly collapsed and in order to avoid a total black-out authorities decided to cut electricity in many districts and suburbs of Athens and Thessaloniki.

In addition to these, a number of electricity-bearing, underground wires literally melted while some transformers even erupted into flames adding even more problems to the already unfolding crisis. What is more, more than 200 people had already been rushed to the hospitals for heat-related treatment and, overall, 18 people lost their lives from heat exhaustion. By June 28 northerly winds started blowing from the northwest and temperatures finally began falling, reaching a cooler 39°C. Nonetheless, at a time when everyone believed that the worst part was over, more than 100 fires erupted across the country. Two people perished in the village of Aghia, near the city of Larissa. In the evening of that same day a major wildfire broke out in Mount Parnitha near Athens. By the dawn of June 29, a significant part of the popular Parnitha National Park had turned into ashes. Temperatures fell as much as 6 more degrees Celsius and the worst heatwave since records began came to an end leaving Greece reeling upon its disastrous effects.

July 2007

By late July, temperatures again rose to more than 40°C in the region, seriously affecting agriculture, the electricity supply, forestry and human health. From July 21 to July 25, most parts of Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia, soared at temperatures reaching or exceeding 45°C. Over 500 deaths in Hungary were attributed to the heatwave by the deputy director of the National Institute of Environmental Health. Major and widespread wildfires destroyed large forested areas across the region. Six people (including two Canadair pilots) lost their lives while trying to extinguish the flames in Greece while the country's electricity grid nearly collapsed for a second time due to a record breaking demand caused by an extensive use of air conditioning units. Hundreds of tourists were stranded on the beaches of Apulia, in South-eastern Italy, and had to be rescued by boats.

In Bulgaria, at least eight deaths were directly attributed to the extreme temperatures in July. Most of the victims were elderly people suffering from chronic diseases. Six people were killed in the fires that started on Saturday 22 July and that continued well into the next week. There were an estimated 1,530 cases of fire in just four days (Friday 20 - Tuesday 24 July 2007), three times the yearly average. Fires raged in almost every corner of the country but the largest fire was near Stara Zagora where 20 square miles (50 km²) of pine forest burned uncontrollably for three days. Firefighters were unable to put out the fire by conventional means. Strong winds and the extremely dry air quickly sparked new fires and by Sunday the situation was out of control. The government turned for help to Russia and Be-200 amphibious water bomber flew in on Saturday to help fight the blaze near Stara Zagora. On Monday, more fires broke out but the one near Stara Zagora was contained. The fire caused extensive damage to the forest and wild life. Estimates vary but this fire alone caused at least two million euros worth of damage.

August 2007

In the beginning of August, Croatia was also badly hit by the fires. The surroundings of the southern city of Dubrovnik were badly hit.


2007 European heat wave Wikipedia