What is Cerberus? Extreme Heat Wave Scorches Italy, Spain, Greece and France

An extreme heat wave has hit parts of Europe, with temperatures going north of 40C in parts of Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Croatia. Spain has recorded day-time temperatures of up to 45C, while Italy saw temperatures breaching 48.8C. Croatia, France, Greece and Turkey are also seeing temperatures soaring past 40°C.

According to the EU's Copernicus Sentinel mission, land temperature in Spain's south-western Extremadura region hit 60C on Tuesday. Italy has issued high heat alerts in 10 cities such as Bolzano, Bologna, Florence and Rome. "We are facing an unbearable heatwave," tweeted
Italian politician Nicola Fratoianni.

Heat Related Deaths

As many as 61,000 people had died across Europe last summer, due to heat-related issues and incidents. This year, authorities across the region have sent out communique asking people to avoid venturing into national parks and maintain extreme caution while moving out of homes. People have been asked to stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol.

In Italy, a 44-year-old man who was painting road markings in the northern region died of heat stroke, raising fears of the repeat of 2021.

Europe heat wave 2023

European Record

After the 2021 summer spell that saw record high temperatures in the continent, Europe fears that the recurrence of such weather phenomena are turning common. In 2021, the Sicilian city of Syracuse recorded 48.8C, which was Europe's hottest-ever heat level.

What Causes Extreme Heat Wave?

According to Italian meteorologists, the heat wave this year is worsened by an anticyclone called 'Cerberus'. The heat wave was named after Cerberus, the fiery-eyed, three-headed dog that guarded the underworld in Greek mythology.

This was caused by a high pressure in the Sahara that moved across northern Africa and into the Mediterranean. According to Euro News, the extreme heatwave likely to stay on in the continent for another two weeks.

El nino

However, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that high levels of temperature will be seen through the year as there is a 90 percent probability of the El Niño weather system to stay on in moderate strength.

How Long Will it Last?

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), July will be a torrid month for Europe. "Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave with temperatures expected to climb to 48 Celsius on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe," ESA said.

"There are no signs of any major changes in weather type the next couple of weeks at present," the European Met Office added, according to Sky News.