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6/28/2007

Europe suffers in extreme weather

Breaking Earth News
European Continent

Dozens of people across southern Europe have perished in a blistering heatwave. Greece authorities said that the LONGEST HEATWAVE IN THE COUNTRY'S HISTORY had killed five people, but media said the death toll was at least ten people. “The weather conditions have been UNPRECEDENTED, we have never had a heatwave lasting for eight straight days.” Athens on Tuesday registered heat up to 46.2C (115.16) in the western district of Nea Filadelfia, the HIGHEST SINCE RECORDINGS THERE BEGAN in 1955. Dozens of wildfires have broken out in rural areas of northern, southern and central Greece and threatened homes before being brought under control. In Romania, the weather-related death toll climbed to 30 after a violent storm lashed the south of the country.



HEAT/DROUGHT/WILDFIRES

The heatwave has killed at least 35 people in parts of southeast Europe and hit wildlife and crops, from the humble toad in Greek lagoons to grain across the region, while fruit is ripening weeks early in Italy. Greece is experiencing its WORST HEATWAVE IN 110 YEARS that has already killed eight people, with temperatures reaching 46 Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) during five days of sweltering weather that showed no signs on Wednesday of letting up. In southern Italy, after the HOTTEST SPRING IN NEARLY TWO CENTURIES, this year's harvest of grapes and other fruit and vegetables is expected to be as much as a month earlier than usual, at the beginning of August. The heat is "literally cooking" Sicilian lemons on the trees, while watermelons, peppers, courgettes, peaches and tomatoes are also at risk. Greece's flora and fauna are suffering and environmentalists warned the scorching temperatures could have a long-term effect on animal populations and plants. "Birds, now in their nesting period, laying eggs in exposed nests are at a very high risk. The eggs are overheating if left uncovered so birds have to remain on the eggs for much longer." Swallows are having problems finding mud for their nests, forcing them to travel further in search for their building material while frogs, toads and salamanders are seeing their habitats dry up, shortening their life span and affecting in turn those animals who feed on them. "These are all linked to each other. With the frog and toad populations dropping, birds who feed on them have problems finding food as they stay in Greece until the autumn." Greece's unusually mild winter, coupled with a warmer than normal May and the current June heatwave, has already triggered changes that could be here to stay. Fish stocks in rivers and lakes are dropping as water is pumped out for agricultural use due to a lack of rain, threatening a rare Greek otter which feeds on them. "Flowers above the treeline on Mount Olympus that start blossoming in May have already competed their cycle, far too early. Among those are several rare, indigenous flowers." "This weather creates a web of problems that will have long-term effects if it persists or if it reoccurs in the coming years." A drought in southeast Europe has already threatened grain crops in countries including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, where the Anatolian news agency quoted the head of a big cooperative as predicting a 50 percent drop in this year's cotton crop.
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