EUROPE is braced for its hottest day since records began today with temperatures likely to soar above the 118F high set 40 years ago.
Thousands of Brit holidaymakers and expats in Spain and Portugal will pile on to packed beaches as the heatwave peaks.
The blistering sunshine is widely tipped to pass the 118.4F (48C) recorded in Athens, Greece, on July 10, 1977.
And the deadly scorcher — driven by an African plume carrying Saharan dust with it — will spark a mini-revival of Britain’s heatwave with temperatures of 88F (31C) expected all weekend.
But it could also lead to a humanitarian crisis across Europe with the number of heat-related deaths likely to rise among the old and sick.
The Red Cross has already sent volunteers to the areas most at risk in southern Spain and Portugal.
And their emergency services have issued a red alert, drafting in extra medical staff and firefighters to cope with the threat.
The highest temperature recorded to date in Spain is 117F (47.3C).
It'll be a Brit hot
TEMPERATURES will rocket in Britain this weekend and well into next week as the heatwave heads north.
They were already climbing yesterday, with London and the South East reaching 91F (32.8C).
However, thunderstorms hit parts of the North, with up to 1.5in of rain falling in just three hours.
Met Office forecaster Becky Mitchell said: “It’s going to be dry and sunny, particularly in the South East, for the weekend. The North will be a little cloudier.”
Meanwhile, it has been so hot that gran Millie Smith has grown bananas in her North London garden. Millie, 82, from Edmonton, said: “I was very excited.”
And naked tombstoner Luke Harris, 24, was fined £250 for jumping into the sea at Ilfracombe, Devon.
The Sun’s Amy Jones was in Badajoz, South West Spain yesterday — where her thermometer recorded a temperature of almost 122F (50C) in the sunshine. Official temperatures are taken in the shade.
Amy said: “Stepping from our air-conditioned car, I’m almost immediately drenched in sweat.
“The thermometer reads almost 50C and my skin prickles like I’m in a dry sauna. It’s utterly scorchio.
“There’s no one to be seen and the streets are silent and empty. With the unbearable temperature it feels a bit like I’m in a post-apocalyptic movie.
“A town usually buzzing with locals and tourists is empty as everyone cowers inside.
“After just ten minutes exposed to the sunshine I was starting to feel woozy and ever so slightly delirious.
“It was as though my brain was being gently cooked, and slowly, slowly, beginning to stop working properly.
"There’s only one way to beat this heat — and that’s to stay out of it.”
More than a million Brits could be caught up in the heatwave. That includes nearly 300,000 expats in Spain.
The Association of British Travel Agents urged tourists to take greater care amid the heatwave.
An Abta spokesman said: “Take a lead from the locals and avoid spending time in the sun during the hottest part of the day, drink lots of water and apply plenty of sun cream.
“If you go to the beach, go early and when it feels like it’s getting too hot, leave — just as the locals do — and have a nice lunch in the shade.
“They do this because they know how powerful the sun can get in the hottest part of the day and they do everything they can to avoid it.”
In neighbouring Portugal, where almost 50,000 British expats live, nearly 11,000 volunteer firefighters, police and soldiers were ready to deal with wildfires.
The country is desperate to prevent a repeat of last year’s devastating fires, which killed 114.
Elsewhere in Europe, France is expected to see highs of 104F (40C), with other Mediterranean areas close to 100F (37C).
In Paris yesterday, Brit David Jones and his wife ignored “no bathing” signs outside the Louvre Museum to cool off in the fountains.
He said: “We’re here for two days, so we’re going for it.”
In Switzerland, mountain railways reported booming business as city workers fled to the Alps to cool off.
Swiss soldiers will also be allowed to wear shorts and T-shirts instead of their regular uniforms.
Even Scandinavian countries are being affected.
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Sweden has warned of a high risk of wildfires amid rising temperatures and strong winds.
Officials at the country’s Civil Contingencies Agency are also warning of a “greater danger to life and health”.
And in Finland’s capital Helsinki temperatures have soared well above the 66F (19C) average and hit 86F (30C).
It was so hot that one supermarket invited 100 customers to spend a night in its air-conditioned aisles.
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Published at Sat, 04 Aug 2018 02:22:36 +0000