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Athens, July 13 – Greece is bracing for the first major heat wave of the season, which is expected to push temperatures in parts of the country above 40 degrees Celsius.
“Temperatures on the mainland will peak on Friday and Saturday, reaching 43 degrees Celsius. This is not unprecedented, it happens every two or three years,” Panagiotis Giannopoulos, meteorologist with the Hellenic National Meteorological Service (EMY), told Xinhua news agency.
High temperatures are forecast to prevail for six days, posing potential health risks, in particular for the elderly and people with medical conditions, according to expert.
In the center of Athens, the temperature reached 39 degrees Celsius on Thursday and was forecast to climb to above 40 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday, before dropping to 39 and 38 degrees Celsius on July 16 and 17, respectively, according to the EMY.
Greece is a country prepared for heatwaves, as in almost all homes, hospitals, restaurants and hotels air conditioners are installed, Giannopoulos said.
This is not expected to be the most intense heat wave of recent years, but precautionary measures are implemented, he added.
The state mechanism has been placed on alert. Public hospitals are on standby, and the Ministry of Labour announced on special provisions for employees in the public and private sectors during the heat wave, such as remote work and changes to operating hours.
“Climate change models show that in the Mediterranean region and in our country in the coming decades we expect more heatwaves,” Giannopoulos said.
Already in the past three decades, the Greek capital has experienced five times more heat waves compared to the period between 1961 and 1990, he said.
Greece, Cyprus and Israel, which have a joint weather monitoring system, named the heat wave “Cleon”.