Europe Swelters Under a Heat Wave Called ‘Lucifer’

Europe Swelters Under a Heat Wave Called ‘Lucifer’
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Aug 6 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/world/europe/europe-heat-wave.html

The meteorologists agree: The long hot spell gripping parts of Europe this past week is uncommon.

People looking for relief from the heat in countries like France, Spain and Italygrappled for just the right name for the phenomenon — and settled on “Lucifer.”

The waves of heat sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, caused at least two deaths, kindled wildfires and drove tempers through the roof.

In France, people congregated around fountains to bask in the meager sprays, or simply to dive in.

In Romania, the police banned heavy traffic on major roads, and trains slowed to a relative crawl.

Animal rights groups in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, urged citizens to place bowls of water outside their buildings and in parks for stray dogs.

High temperatures this summer have brought punishing heat to regions in the United States like the Pacific Northwest — where generations had shunned air-conditioning — reaching as high as 104 in Seattle and 107 in Portland, Ore. In parts of Asia, like Pakistan, a blast of scorching weather this year also had people there reaching for comparisons to hell on earth as records fell.

Experts say it’s all part of a broader trend: Summers are, indeed, getting hotter. Here is what our correspondents across Europe reported about the heat on the Continent.

Where gum is melting

Sun-kissed Italy has become sun-cursed. With temperatures in recent days regularly rising north of 100 degrees, a nationwide drought leaving rivers and mouths dry and countryside kindling and arsonists combining to ignite the landscape, Italians are, well, boiling.

Farmers are lamenting more than $1 billion in revenue lost to drought and singed fields. Firefighters are busy. Packs of gum are melting in their wrappers.

In Rome, the heat wave has coincided with a meltdown of public services, including public transport. The city’s older residents bunch together in the narrow shade of bus stop signs waiting for buses that are late or out of service.

On trams without air-conditioning, women fanned themselves and children, slicked with sweat, across the aisle.

(In Italy, air-conditioning is viewed, even by doctors in offices without air-conditioning, as a malevolent, unnatural force responsible for stiff necks, respiratory ailments and anything else not easily diagnosable. Taxi drivers refuse to turn it on as a public health service.)

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