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Up to 36C: Austria braces for first heatwave of year before violent storms

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Up to 36C: Austria braces for first heatwave of year before violent storms
Austria is hit by its first heatwave of the year. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP)

Temperatures have already surpassed 30C in Austria, and the peak of heatwave is expected on Friday, with storms over the weekend.

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Austria was sizzling on Thursday as the year's first heatwave hit, with temperatures soaring to 30C and beyond. This early onset of extreme heat had experts concerned about the increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves due to climate change.

Clemens Bauer of Geosphere Austria said that the initial heatwave would be particularly challenging for the body, which struggles to cope with the sudden and drastic rise in temperature. This was a clear illustration of the toll that climate change is taking on our health, he said.

However, subsequent heatwaves are less severe as the body gradually adjusts.

The first 30-degree day in Vienna this year arrived on Tuesday, earlier than the historical average, a trend that was also observed in Bruck an der Mur in Styria. 

READ ALSO: How Austria plans to protect the public during heatwaves this summer

The duration of heatwaves has also increased over time. Vienna's average number of hot days has risen from ten during the years 1961-1990 to 27 on average during the years 2010-2018. The peak of the current heatwave is forecast to hit on Friday, with temperatures predicted to reach 36C.

The lack of nighttime cooling poses an additional challenge, hindering the body's recovery from heat stress. Vienna may experience its first tropical night of the year on Thursday, with overnight temperatures above 20C in the city centre.

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Storms ahead

The severe weather centre is warning of severe thunderstorms on Friday and in the night to Saturday. While the heat will peak in the east of Austria on Friday at up to 36C, thunderstorms are expected to start in the west and then spread eastwards, meteorologists report.

READ ALSO: How to stay cool in Austria as the heatwave hits

There is a risk of severe weather in the east, especially on Friday afternoon and Saturday night, with heavy rain, large hail and severe storms. The potential for severe weather will decrease again on Saturday.

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