Hottest Day in French History: 45.9°C (114.6°F)

June 28, 2019, 5:18 PM EDT

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Above: Teenagers play volleyball as they cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris on June 25, 2019, with the Eiffel Tower on the background. Image credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images.

Friday was the hottest day in French history, as the mercury shot up to an astonishing 45.9°C (114.6°F) at Gallargues-le-Montueux in southern France. This destroyed the previous all-time national heat record of 44.1°C (111.4°F), set on Aug. 12, 2003, by 1.8°C (3.2°F), according to Meteo-France.

At least one other station in southern France on Friday beat the former national record by 1°C as well: Villevielle, with 45.1°C. In all, a remarkable 12 stations beat or tied the former all-time national French heat record of 44.1°C.

All-time national heat record also set in Andorra

Friday’s extreme heat also affected northeastern Spain and the tiny Principality of Andorra, sandwiched between France and Spain. Andorra set their all-time national heat record on Friday with 39.4°C (102.9°F) at Borda Vidal. According to weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera, the previous national heat record was 38.5°C (101.3°F) at Andorra La Vella on July 16, 2005.

A significant record

All-time national heat and cold records are difficult to beat, particularly in a country with a dense observational network with many stations that have a long period of record, like France. Three remarkable features stand out about the new record:

- It was destroyed by a huge margin—1.8°C (3.2°F).

- The record was beaten in the month of June, several weeks before the climatological peak heat of late July. In the list of all-time European heat records maintained by Maximiliano Herrera,  just three of the 53 all-time national European heat records have been set in June. Twenty-two were set in July, and 27 were set in August.

- The former national record was beaten or tied by at least twelve French stations on Friday (see tweet below).

Fire weather forecast
Figure 1. Predicted Fire Weather Index for Sunday, June 30, 2019, from the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. Continued hot, dry weather over the weekend is expected to bring extreme fire danger to portions of Spain, southern France, Italy, Germany, and Poland.

More record heat on Saturday and Sunday

Europe’s brutal June heat wave is expected to last through Sunday over portions of Western and Southern Europe, thanks to a “stuck” jet stream pattern that has allowed a hot airmass from the Sahara Desert to flow northwards into Europe. Over the weekend, numerous stations likely to set all-time heat records not only for June, but for any month of the year.

On Saturday, the most intense heat will be centered over Spain and the western two-thirds of France. By Sunday, the heat will progress eastwards, with France, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic all at risk of breaking all-time heat records.

Sunday is expected to be the hottest day of the heat wave for Germany, where at least 204 of 451 of the German weather service’s active stations broke or tied their June record on Wednesday. That list included 13 stations that broke or tied their all-time heat record for any month. Many of those records are set to fall again on Sunday.

At 1 pm Friday, the WU forecast for Berlin was predicting a Sunday high of 38.3°C (101°F); Maintz, Germany was forecast to be a degree hotter. Germany’s all-time heat record is 40.3°C (104.5°F), set on July 5 and August 7, 2015, and this record could fall on Sunday. The Czech Republic’s all-time heat record of 40.4°C (104.7°F) set on August 20, 2012, is also at risk on Sunday. The WU forecast for Teplice, Czech Republic on Sunday calls for a high of 37.8°C (100°F).

The heat wave will diminish by Monday, July 1, when no further all-time heat records can be expected to fall.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

Dr. Jeff Masters co-founded Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology at the University of Michigan. He worked for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990 as a flight meteorologist.

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