France has never been hotter. The intense dome of high pressure sitting over Europe has shattered heat records across the continent. At least five countries set June heat records on Thursday, and on Friday, France smashed its all-time temperature record at at least a dozen weather stations.
Heat has built across Western Europe all week as high pressure locks in place sunny skies and still, hot air percolates up from Africa. Climate change has also boosted background temperatures across the region, giving a lift to heat waves. Some research also indicates rapid warming in the Arctic could help lock in “stuck” weather patterns like the one Europe is seeing.
The sizzling weather toppled June temperature records in Andorra, Luxembourg, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany on Thursday. All countries saw at least one site top at least 37.8C save mountainous Luxembourg, which “only” cracked 36.8C.
France also set a June record on Thursday, but on Friday the heat kicked into overdrive. As of Friday afternoon local time, the small town of Gallargues-le-Montueux, located in southern France, cracked 45.9C. That marks an all-time French record. Friday's heat also marked the first time the country has ever recorded temperatures above 45C.
At least one other station cracked the 45C threshold and, according to a tweet from meteorologist Steve Bowen, at least 12 stations rose above the previous record set in 2003 of 44.1C on Friday as well.
#Canicule Des températures très élevées relevées cet après-midi sur une large partie du pays. Le record absolu (tous mois confondus) de température en métropole a été battu : 45,9°C relevés à 16h21 à Gallargues-le-Montueux pic.twitter.com/kaTp1gbOl4
— Météo-France (@meteofrance) June 28, 2019
All the records set on Friday are considered preliminary. Meteorologists will now go back to look at the data for the day, as well as the whole period of record for the stations, to ensure the data is high quality and the records are reliable.
It’ll likely take months to officially verify any new records, but the images and stories coming out of France and the rest of Europe make it pretty clear that it’s really flipping hot.
The breadth and intensity of heat is unprecedented this early in the summer — the worst heat usually hits in late July and August. But the heat is indicative of the world’s new trajectory as climate change results in more of, well, exactly what we’re seeing right now.
Friday was the likely peak of the heat wave, but extremely uncomfortable weather is expected to continue through the weekend. Switzerland’s weather agency has red alerts for part of the country warning of “high danger” heat conditions through Sunday. Ditto for France, with its weather agency noting that Saturday could actually be the hottest day of the week for the Paris area.
In some ways that makes the US-France World Cup matchup happening on Friday there a blessing in disguise, though temperatures are still expected to be around 29C at kickoff around 9:00PM local time.