‘Dangerous’ heatwave strikes again in Athens

‘Dangerous’ heatwave strikes again in Athens

Athens: In Athens’ Parliament Square, the Avazones parade under their red berths and sweltering heat.
With sweat on their foreheads, the presidential guards rehearse their choreography in front of a group of tourists as a new heatwave hits the Greek capital.
“They are wonderful, but they will suffer,” says Jim Grace, an Irish tourist who watches them in the scorching sun, holding a bottle of water.
“We’re getting used to,” says his wife, Esther Grace. “We’re drinking a lot of water and applying sunscreen.”
Dubbed a “hazardous” event because of how long this will last and the small difference between maximum and minimum temperatures, the heatwave is expected to peak on Monday, with temperatures ranging from 42 to 44 °C (107 to 111 °F). ) is likely to be reached.
It is the second this year, part of a trend of more frequent heatwaves and rising average temperatures that prompted the municipality of Athens earlier this month to appoint a climate official to try and reduce the heat.
On Monastiraki Square, Alexandra Holaro pulls her cart full of sweets through tourists trying on hats and straw hats.
“I’m going to die this summer,” she says.
Her face is red, the 60-year-old shopkeeper sets up a parasol but “there aren’t many options to protect myself,” she says.
“It’s tough, it’s very hard to work in these conditions.”
Passersby tend to stay close to the walls in search of shade emanating from the shops and air conditioning.
Cafe terraces are oases with water misters and fans running at full speed.
“We weren’t really ready,” confesses Frenchman Nicolas Deshais.
“We left Paris this morning where the temperature was 15 degrees.”
Athens climate official Eleni Mairivilli told AFP that the situation would get worse if nothing was done.
“By 2050, the number of rainy days will drop by 12 percent and temperatures will rise by 2.5 degrees,” she says.
But they are “solutions” such as developing green space in a city that looks like a sea of ​​concrete, helping vulnerable people and raising public awareness.
“We need to rethink public space as a whole because the consequences affect the health of our population and the economy of our country,” she says.
“Accidents at the workplace are more frequent with the rise in temperature and fewer people go to the shops.”
Greece has already experienced a heatwave earlier this summer when temperatures soared to 44 degrees Celsius for 11 days.
It was the fifth longest heat wave in Greece in 40 years, according to data from the National Observatory of Athens.
“These climate events are becoming more and more frequent,” says Constantino Lagouvardos, the observatory’s director of meteorological research.
“Beyond the heat waves, the most worrying thing is that the average temperature is rising significantly after the summer.
“The average in Athens now is 34-35 degrees, which is two degrees higher than in previous years,” he says.
“This is already the second heatwave of the summer, a third will be an unprecedented event.”
Many municipalities have opened air-conditioned shelters for the homeless and vulnerable.
In Piraeus, a short distance from the port where tourists flee to the islands, about 15 people visit one such center every day to find some respite.
“This year we have opened an air-conditioned space for the fourth time,” says Argiro Koica, a social worker at the centre.
The Ministry of Civil Defense recommends protecting yourself from the sun by staying in shaded and air-conditioned places, abstaining from physical activities and drinking water regularly.

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