Austria hit by storms as Graz records Europe’s warmest temperature

The Styrian capital of Graz was the warmest place in Europe on Thursday as stormy weather swept across Austria.

The Austrian city of Graz. Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash
Graz has its own set of property buying rules for international residents. Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

It might still be winter but it felt more like spring across much of Austria on Thursday as a storm system moved across the country bringing gale force winds and unseasonably warm temperatures.

Graz was Europe’s warmest location on Thursdaywhen the mercury hit 22.1 degrees on Thursday afternoon followed by wind gusts of over 100km per hour on the Styrian mountains.

The temperature also pushed past 20 degrees in Deutschlandsberg (21.8 degrees), Köflach (21.2 degrees) and Frohnleiten (20.6 degrees) – all in Styria.

The average temperature in Austria for February is roughly 3 degrees.

Overnight on Thursday, strong winds are set to continue in the Alps but are expected to settle down on Friday.

The mild weather in Styria will continue on Friday with a forecasted high of 16 degrees.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany has been hit by wild stormy weather leading to disruptions to rail and air networks and a state of emergency has been declared for Berlin. the Czech Republic has also been impacted by the storm and 300,000 homes are without power.

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Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.