Hottest summer since records began
This summer has been the hottest on record for Austria - not only have the heatwaves lasted longer than usual, but parts of the country have also had more days with temperatures of 35C and over than ever before.
By Friday, Vienna is forecast to have had more days with the mercury at 35C and over than in the whole of the last ten years, the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) said.
The latest heatwave has left the capital sweltering after 13 days straight of so-called ‘desert weather’. Previously the summer of 2013 was the hottest on record, but it only had five continuous days of sunshine and blazing heat.
Unsurprisingly, fans are now a much sought-after commodity with many shops having sold out and unable to restock their supplies, and few apartments and offices equipped with air conditioning. Some supermarkets are even running out of ice lollies.
The heat looks set to subside slightly on Saturday with thunderstorms forecast over the weekend and the thermometer dipping to around 32C.
Austria’s other regions have also had the warmest July since records began.
The weather will remain very hot across Austria until the weekend, with highs between 30 and 38C. It will be hottest in the east of the country, with some rain showers and thunderstorms forecast for the west in the coming days. Next week should be more comfortable, with highs of around 28C.
A massive heat dome - which is more or less stationary over central and eastern Europe - is responsible for the current spell of scorching heat. Climate experts at ZAMG said that three factors have contributed to making this a record-breakingly hot summer. Firstly, because of global warming temperatures are significantly higher than they were in previous decades. Secondly, the subtropical high-pressure dome is further north than in previous years. And thirdly, the ground in southern and central Europe is very dry this year which means there is less of a cooling effect from evaporation.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that due to climate change, not only is it likely that heat waves have increased across large parts of Europe, but in the future, it is very likely that heat waves will last longer and occur more often.
The summer has not been good for farmers, with enormous losses predicted due to crops being damaged by the extreme heat, lack of rain, and violent hailstorms in July. Kurt Weinberger, the head of the hail insurance group, said that losses totalling €100 million are predicted due to the drought and €30 million due to hail damage.