A heat wave named Cerberus has southern Europe in its jaws, and it’s only going to get worse

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Tourists in central Athens huddled under misters and animals at the Madrid Zoo were fed fruit popsicles and chunks of frozen food, as southern Europeans prepared to a heat wave on Thursday, with a warning of severe conditions coming from the European Union Space Agency.

Emergency measures – including personnel changes, mobile phone alerts and intensified forest fire patrols – have been prepared or implemented in several countries as temperatures in parts of Europe Mediterranean were expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113F) on Friday and over the weekend.

In Athens and other Greek cities, working hours have been changed for the public sector and many businesses to avoid the midday heat, while air-conditioned areas have been opened to the public.

“It’s like being in Africa,” 24-year-old tourist Balint Jolan, from Hungary, told the AP. “It’s not much warmer than ours right now, but yes, it’s difficult.”

The high-pressure system, which crossed the Mediterranean from North Africa, was named Cerberus, after the three-headed dog in ancient Greek mythology that guarded the gates of the underworld. It is monitored by the European Space Agency.

“Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave, with temperatures set to soar to 48 degrees Celsius on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – potentially the temperatures the hottest ever recorded in Europe,” the agency said on Thursday.

In the Arctic, a record temperature of 28.8 degrees Celsius (83.8 degrees F) was measured at Slettness Fyr, at the northern tip of Norway, Norwegian meteorologists said on Thursday. This exceeds a previous record from July 1964 when the thermometer reached 27.6 degrees Celsius (81.7 degrees F).

The United Nations World Meteorological Organization said on Monday that global temperatures recorded in early July were among the hottest on record.


Associated Press writers Derek Gatopoulos in Athens and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.

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