Temperatures are set to soar in the UK this week, with predicted potential highs of 42C. Elsewhere in Europe, the heatwave is causing wildfires to rage in France, Spain and Portugal.
The current record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe is 48C, which was registered in Athens, Greece, in 1977. But last year regional authorities on the Italian island of Sicily registered a temperature of 48.8C on 11 August 2021.
If verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it will be a new record for Europe.
Here are 10 other spots that are almost too hot to handle.
Which destinations have achieved record-busting heat?
Death Valley, California, USA
The aptly named Furnace Creek currently holds the record for hottest air temperature ever recorded. The desert valley reached highs of 56.7C in the summer of 1913, which would apparently push the limits of human survival. There is debate over the validity of this temperature, but even if proved false Furnace Creek still comes top: a temperature of 54.4C was recorded in August 2020. Average temperature highs today reach 47C during summer, and it’s the driest place in the States.
Death Valley, California, USA
The highest temperature ever reliably recorded in Africa was 51.3C in Ouargla in the Algerian Sahara desert, on 5 July 2018. There are plenty of historic claims for Africa’s hottest temperature – including 55C in Kebili, Tunisia, the current official record – but these all ring alarm bells because of the way they were recorded, at French and Italian military outposts during the colonial period.
Mitribah, a remote area of northwest Kuwait, hit a sweltering 53.9C on 21 July 2016. Not only was it the third highest temperature ever recorded, it’s also the highest temperature ever recorded for the continental region of Asia.
A temperature of 53.9C was recorded at Basra International Airport in Iraq on 22 July 2016.
Turbat, a city located in southern Balochistan, Pakistan, recorded the fourth highest ever temperature on 28 May 2017: 53.7C.
This hydrothermal field with salt formations, acidic hot springs, and gas geysers had an average daily maximum temperature of 41C recorded from 1960 to 1966. These soaring numbers mean it has the highest average temperature of any inhabited place on earth.
The former capital of the Jafara district, 25 miles south of Tripoli, used to claim the title of hottest place on earth – in 1922 the temperature was recorded as a sweltering 58C. However, it was stripped of its title in 2012 when meteorologists declared this invalid due to a number of factors, including the fact that the person who recorded it was inexperienced. However, the town still regularly experiences temperatures of over 48C in midsummer.
The Omani city of Quriyat, which is located south-east of the capital Muscat, recorded the highest ever minimum – ie night-time – temperature on 26 June 2018. The mercury didn’t get below 42.6C that night, beating the previous record of 41.9C, also recorded in Oman.
Dasht-e Loot, Iran
This desert plateau has the hottest ground temperatures on the planet – satellite measurements taken between 2003 and 2009 found a maximum temperature of a staggering 70.7C. Needless to say, the region is uninhabited.
Bandar-e Mahshahr, Iran
This sweltering city hit the second highest heat index on record – the heat index combines air temperature and relative humidity. Bandar-e Mahshahr registered a heat index of 74C in July 2015. The hottest recorded temperature there is 51C.
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