Temperatures are expected to rise to unprecedented highs in Portugal this week, meteorologists are warning.
Starting tomorrow (Tuesday), maximum temperatures are due to exceed 40ºC in most of mainland Portugal. Night-time will not bring much relief, with temperatures unlikely to drop below 20ºC.
Capital Lisbon is due for maximums of 41ºC on Wednesday, while inland regions could see temperatures reach as high as 45ºC to 46ºC.
The Algarve will dodge the worst of the heatwave, with coastal areas unlikely to see temperatures go beyond the 35ºC mark – although inland municipalities like Alcoutim could also experience torrid temperatures over 40ºC.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Europe was near Syracuse in the Italian island of Sicily – 48.8ºC on August 11, 2021.
Portugal’s hottest temperature (47.4ºC) was recorded on August 1, 2003 in Amareleja in the district of Beja.
Filipe Duarte Santos, a professor at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Sciences specialising in climate change, has warned that heatwaves are going to become frequent and extreme.
“We’re going to have to learn to live with them,” he told i newspaper, adding that these heatwaves also significantly increase the risk of wildfires, affect people’s health (especially those most vulnerable to extreme weather) and also have an impact on energy consumption.
“For many years, the peaks of electricity consumption in the Iberian Peninsula happened during coldwaves. We are seeing more and more that they are happening during heatwaves,” the specialist said, adding that more people are resorting to air-conditioning and other electronical ways of staying cool.
These more frequent and extreme heatwaves could lead to changes in routines and behaviour, much like during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as working from home during the worst heatwaves.