Portugal breaks temperature records amid heatwave
LISBON — Eight places in the center, south, and east of Portugal broke local temperature records as a wave of heat from Africa swept across the Iberian peninsula, with officials forecasting Friday it would continue and possibly worsen over the weekend.
Temperatures built to around 113 degrees in many inland areas of Portugal on Friday, and were expected to peak at 116 degrees in some places on Saturday. Large parts of Portugal are on red alert on the Civil Protection Agency’s danger scale.
The highest temperature recorded Thursday, when the heat began to rise, was 113 near Abrantes, a town about 90 miles northeast of the capital, Lisbon, according to the country’s weather agency IPMA.
Portugal’s highest recorded temperature was 117 in 2003. Emergency services have issued a red alert, placing extra services such as medical staff and firefighters on standby through Sunday.
In Portugal’s southern Alentejo province, streets were largely deserted and some farmers chose to work during the night. Beaches around Lisbon, meanwhile, were packed.
About 400 firefighters and five water-dropping aircraft were battling a wildfire in southern Portugal’s Algarve region.
Portugal sees large wildfires every year, although unseasonably cool weather through the end of July has meant fewer blazes in 2018. The government says only about 15 percent of the 10-year average area has been charred so far this year.
Temperatures were being driven higher across the Iberian peninsula by a hot air mass moving northward from Africa, which is also bringing dust from the Sahara Desert, meteorologists said. The dust gave the sky a dark-yellow hue in some places.
In Spain, heat warnings were also issued for 41 of the country’s 50 provinces as temperatures were expected to reach up to 111 degrees Celsius.
In Greece on Friday, Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas resigned over the deadly forest fire that killed at least 87 people in a seaside area near Athens last week, after spending days defending the way authorities under his supervision handled the disaster.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with Toskas and accepted his resignation. Toskas and other government officials came under intense criticism from Greek opposition parties over authorities’ response to the fire at Mati.