Greece Braces for First Heatwave of the Season

Greece Heatwave
Temperatures could hit 43 degrees Celsius this week. Credit: AMNA

Greece will endure a three-day heatwave starting Tuesday with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the country’s civil protection minister said Monday, warning of a high wildfire risk.

The heat “will peak on Wednesday and Thursday,” Vassilis Kikilias told reporters ahead of a cross-ministry meeting. As a result, he said Greece’s fire risk warning will be placed at a “very high” level of four on a scale of five.

Meteorologists had warned that temperatures could hit 43 degrees Celsius this week before falling at the weekend.

“Heat heats are not rare in our country, but they traditionally appear in July and August. The June heatwaves are particularly unusual – at least until recently – and we can characterize them as “early” heatwaves,” scientists at the National Observatory of Athens said.

Remote working during heatwave in Greece

The fire brigade expressed concern. The risk of forest fires is very high, especially in central Greece, after a winter with little rain and due to the unusually high temperatures since the beginning of June, the service wrote on the social media platform X.

“It will be a very difficult fire season,” Kikilias said Monday.

Greece has adopted stiffer sentences for accidental and premeditated arson. From May 1 perpetrators will face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 200,000 euros ($215,000).

According to the National Observatory of Athens, fires in 2023 consumed nearly 175,000 hectares (432,000 acres) of forest and farmland in Greece after a two-week heatwave, the longest on record. 

The Greek Red Cross is advising people to stay out of the sun, close the shutters, drink plenty of fluids and eat lightly. People should keep in touch with friends and family to ensure that older people in particular are well.

The forecast for extreme temperatures led some municipalities to decide to keep schools closed or modify their operation.

The Interior Ministry has recommended that civil servants who belong to vulnerable health groups work at home until at least Thursday. Other civil servants should also be allowed to work at home at their request. Employees who normally work outdoors are to avoid working from in the hottest hours of the day, from noon to 5 p.m.

Longest heatwave in the summer of 2023

Scientists have warned of a hot summer in Greece with severe and regular heatwaves.

Last July, a record-breaking 46.4 Celsius was recorded at Gytheio, located in the Peloponnese region. This set a new record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Greece since records began in 2006.

At Kranidi, also in Peloponnese the second highest temperature was recorded at 45.9.

Last year’s heatwave became the longest in the country’s recorded history, according to a senior official with the National Observatory.

Heatwaves expected after the warmest winter in Greece

Greece has experienced the warmest winter on record this year according to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), analyzed by the scientific team of

Specifically, the 2023 to 2024 winter, lasting from December 2023 to February 2024, in Greece was marked by extended periods of high temperatures, significantly surpassing seasonal norms.

Meteo reports that the winter of 2023 to 2024 was recorded as the warmest in Greek history, surpassing the winter of 2015 to 2016.

The average maximum temperature in Greece during the winter period has risen by 1.8°C from 1960 to 2024.

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