2007 European heat wave
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|Date||17–27 June 2007|
20–26 July 2007
|Location||Mostly southern and eastern Europe|
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 17 June and expanded into Greece and the rest of the Balkans, Hungary and Ukraine on 18 June. The costs of the heat wave were estimated at €2 billion.
Up until 21 June, temperatures generally hovered around 36–39 °C (97–102 °F) in most of the aforementioned countries; however, starting on 22 June, 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 23–24 June and on 25 June, temperatures soared to 43–44 °C (109–111 °F). By 26 June, however, Greece seemed to bear the brunt of the heatwave with temperatures in Athens reaching 46.2 °C (115.2 °F). The same day, Greece's national power consumption set a new record. Parts of Greece, including neighbourhoods in Athens, suffered from power outages due to high electricity demand and heat damage to the grid. Explosions from overheating transmission towers were implicated in the forest fires ravaging the country. The discomfort was exacerbated by high night-time temperatures, which exceeded averages by up to 8 °C (14 °F), and remained at very high levels for more than half of the 2007 summer.
More than 200 people were rushed to the hospitals for heat-related treatment and, overall, 18 people lost their lives from heat exhaustion. By 28 June northerly winds started blowing from the northwest and temperatures finally began falling, reaching a cooler 39 °C (102 °F). 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 29 June, a significant part of the popular Parnitha National Park had turned into ashes. Temperatures fell by as much as 6 °C (11 °F) and the worst heatwave since records began came to an end leaving Greece reeling upon its disastrous effects.
By late July, temperatures again rose to more than 40 °C (104 °F) in the region, seriously affecting agriculture, the electricity supply, forestry and human health. From 21 July to 25 July, most parts of Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia, soared at temperatures reaching or exceeding 45 °C (113 °F). 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 22 July and that continued well into the next week. There were an estimated 1,530 cases of fire in just four days (20–24 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 euro2 million worth of damage.
In the beginning of August, Croatia was also badly hit by the fires. The surroundings of the southern city of Dubrovnik were badly hit.
This section includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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- Founda & Giannakopoulos 2009, p. 230.
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