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Greece: Heatwave to Peak This Week, with Temperatures Up to 117F

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(Photo by Eurokinissi/Sotiris Dimitropoulos)

ATHENS -- The long and blisteringly hot heatwave in Greece is expected to peak in the current week, as hot air masses moving up from Africa send temperatures soaring. Maximum temperatures will reach 43-45C on average and rise as high as 46-47C in some localities, while the risk of fires is exceptionally high.

The very hot weather that started the previous week is expected to continue until Thursday, after which it will become slightly cooler compared with the extreme heat of the previous days. Minimum temperatures during the night will also remain high, especially in urban areas, increasing the sense of discomfort.

Authorities warned of the high risk to the population, advising extreme caution, as well as the risk of power outtages due to excessive consumption. They urged the public to restrict use of electric devices at peak times (13:00 until 15:00 and 18:00 until 22:00).

A meeting to discuss the strain on the country's electricity grid due to the extended heatwave was planned on Monday at the Control Centre of the power transmission operator ADMIE, with Environment and Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas in the chair, attended by the head of the Regulatory Authority for Energy Athanasios Dagoumas, ADMIE CEO Manousos Manousakis, the head of the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator S.A. Tasos Manos and the President and CEO of the Hellenic Power Corporation Giorgos Stassis, with other senior executives.

The meeting will decide on the steps that will be taken to ensure sufficient electricity and the response to possible emergencies or unforeseen circumstances.

"Conditions for the electricity system are unprecedented, as consumption over the coming days is expected to reach peak levels due to the very high temperatures. For this reason, coordination of the various bodies of electricity producers at the highest level is essential to ensure the uninterrupted supply to consumers during the extreme phenomenon," the ministry said.

The advice is to avoid use of high-consumption devices (washing machines, ovens, boilers etc) during peak times, to raise the thermostat for air-conditioning units to 26C and avoid unnecessary use of electric lights.

Fears were also expressed about the stress on the infrastructure due to the high temperatures and the higher chance of fires, with ADMIE in constant communication with the fire department and the operations centre for early warning, coordination and response in the case of a fire near power system infrastructure.

Efforts will also be made to source emergency power supplies from neighbouring and other power system operators.

DEDDIE reported that damage to electricity cables in Attica was due to high ground temperatures combined the heavier load on the system, which pushed them to their thermal stress limits. A 24-hour watch has been established using company staff and contractors to address and fix any damage as soon as possible.

Advice to the public, especially the very young, very old and those in vulnerable groups, is to take measures to protect themselves from the heat, use fans or air-conditioning to keep cool, avoid physical exercise outdoors, sunbathing and rich foods and eat light meals of fruit and vegetables. Showers with luke-warm water and cold compresses on the head and neck can be used to keep cool.

People are also advised to drink lots of water and fruit juices, avoid alcohol, to wear a hat and sunglasses and light-coloured loose clothing made of natural fabrics when going outdoors. For small babies, it is advised that they be given additional fluids, apart from milk. Elderly relatives should not be left alone for extended periods of time.

To keep residences cooler, it is advised that doors and windows stay shut during the hotter daytime hours and only opened at night once it is cooler.

The risk of fires is extremely high for all regions, with the public advised to avoid all activities that might lead to an accidental fire, such as burning plant waste, barbecues, use of machinery that generates sparks etc. In case of fire, the emergency number is 199.

The temperature is forecast to range from 16C to 41-43C in northern Greece, from 19C to 44-45C in Thessaly, from 22C to 43-45C on the rest of the mainland, between 22C and 42-43C on the Ionian islands, from 22C to 40C on Crete and the islands of the Aegean, and up to 42-43C for the Dodecanese and Eastern Aegean islands.

Winds will blow from northwesterly directions, reaching up to 5 Beaufort. Very hot in Attica, with temperatures from 31C to 42-43C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 28C and 40C.