ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A near unprecedented round of extreme heat settled over much of western Europe on Monday, with major cities and countries nearing or breaking all-time records. However, some of these records may sound like a hot summer’s day, especially if you’ve been all around the country.
To better understand why it may seem normal to many of us, and extraordinary to most Europeans, we need to take a look at our geography. Most of the major cities in western Europe are significantly farther north than many people realize.
For example, Rochester is closer in latitude to Barcelona than Paris. If you want to get near London’s latitude, you have to head all the way up to Newfoundland, Canada. Once you’re that far north, temperatures over 100 degrees start to sound a bit more unusual.
Of course there are other factors to consider, as a city’s climate is determined by more than just its latitude. Other factors can include its proximity to a large body of water, ocean currents, and a hundred other different things.
The one thing that is consistent about higher latitudes, though, is that as you go farther north, the angle of the sun becomes smaller. This means the suns energy is less direct, making it harder for temperatures to climb to extreme levels.
This is the same reason why the north and south poles are so cold as they receive some of the least direct sunlight in the world.
How hot did it get?
Across the continent, millions faced temperatures around 100°F (38°C) with the country of Wales recording its highest temperature, ever. According to the UK Met Office at 4:00 p.m. GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT) the temperature in Hawarden, Wales hit 99°F (37.1°C).
This shattered the old record for the United Kingdom country, which was 95.4°F (35.2°C). On Monday, Heathrow Airport in London topped out at 97°F (36.2°C), decidedly close to the United Kingdom’s all-time record of 101.7°F (38.7°C). In Paris, they hit 105°F (40.6°C), also coming fairly close to their record high.
The heat was so extreme in parts of the UK, the Royal Airforce suspended flights out of its largest base due to the runway “melting,” according to a statement from officials.
Tuesday is expected to continue to test high temperature records across Europe. Forecasts from the UK Met Office and the BBC are calling for temperatures as high as 104°F in the UK, which would topple the nationwide record by a few degrees.