City swelters as temperatures remain high

As Greeks continue to look for ways to cool off in sweltering temperatures, experts recommended yesterday that Athenians stay away from the center of the city if they want to experience cooler conditions. According to surveys conducted by Athens University over the last 10 years, temperatures in central streets such as Ermou can reach 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), while at the same time of day, suburbs such as Ilioupolis show a far lower 30C (86F). «The city absorbs the sun’s rays and holds the temperature. This is exacerbated by the fact that we use buildings for residential and office purposes that are unsuitable,» said Matthaios Santamouris, associate professor of meteorology at Athens University. «We have calculated that if all rooftops had been painted with cooler colors, the city’s temperatures would drop by three degrees. Similarly, by painting exterior walls a color that does not absorb heat, we would reduce the temperature by six degrees,» he added. Greece has failed to adopt an EU directive on energy-saving methods for buildings, the deadline for which expired in 2006. Soaring temperatures made conditions particularly difficult for firefighters late on Tuesday when a blaze broke out in Glyfada, southern Athens, at a municipal rubbish collection point. Rubbish collectors deposit garbage at the collection point – sometimes for a number of days – before it is sent on to the city’s landfill at Ano Liosia in northwest Athens. The fire was quickly brought under control but not before a thick cloud of black smoke had formed over Glyfada and surrounding areas. The fire could continue to burn for days before being completely extinguished, authorities said. Meanwhile, the Public Power Corporation yesterday instructed residents to switch off their air-conditioning units and avoid cooking to prevent power cuts during this week’s heat wave. Temperatures are expected to top 43C (110F) at the weekend. Rising energy consumption has triggered brief power cuts in parts of the mainland and islands in recent days.

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