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4/27/2007

High temperatures, and even higher anxiety, in Europe

April 26, 2007
Since the start of April, the temperatures and dryness have SET RECORDS in parts of France and Germany. Large swaths of northern France have been so cloudless, there have been about 11 hours of sunshine a day for the last few weeks, nearly double the usual amount. There also has been a lack of rain in Italy, the Netherlands and Britain. There are fears that droughts and electricity shortages are just around the corner. For some climate-change experts, the unseasonably high temperatures are a reason for anxiety. They foresee restrictions on water use and a growing likelihood of infestations by insects and pests. "Four seasons of warm weather in a row can create quite a shock to our ecosystem." This month will probably be the warmest April on record in France. "We've had an exceptionally warm month with temperatures more than 10 degrees above the seasonal averages, and we expect the next three months to be above normal." There was barely a drop of rain in some parts of France during much of April, something that is "VERY, VERY RARE." British forecasters also say April is very likely to set a new record in terms of highest mean temperature. They predict the heat to continue. "Signals for the rest of the summer indicate another warmer than average summer." Northern Italy and pockets of central Italy experienced RECORD-SETTING heat in April. In Germany, the Wednesday edition of the newspaper Bild carried a front-page headline predicting a "Sahara summer." Temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) are predicted in some regions, including Frankfurt this weekend, and the German weather service is "quite certain" April will be the warmest, sunniest and driest since 1901, when weather monitoring began. In a sign of changes under way in Europe, clement conditions have led people to experiment with vineyards and olive groves in parts of Devon and Cornwall in Britain. Oil seed rape, the third biggest crop grown in Britain, is flowering two weeks earlier than usual and might yield a better harvest because of the sunnier weather. Around Paris the sunshine and heat were exacerbating the effects of tailpipe fumes and other emissions, and could trigger respiratory and eye conditions and other disorders. Airparif issued its EARLIEST EVER OZONE-ALERT this year on April 15, beating a record of May 30, which was set in 2003. "Everywhere looks nice" but "in the back of my mind there is a feeling that it's just not right."
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