Brief respite from heat on the way

Temperatures are expected to drop this week after Greece experienced one of the hottest days of the summer yesterday but experts have warned that there is a clear trend that shows the climate is heating up. The highest temperature recorded yesterday was 39C (102F) in Sofades, near Karditsa in central Greece. In Athens and Larissa, the temperature reached 38C (100F) and was made more uncomfortable by high levels of humidity. «The heat should slowly begin to abate as of Wednesday,» the head of the National Meteorological Service (EMY), Dimitris Ziakopoulos, told Kathimerini. «Temperatures should drop by two to three degrees, mainly in the western and northern parts. There will be a further drop over the weekend, when temperatures will return to seasonable levels.» It is rare for Greece to experience a heat wave in August, although there have been several devastating bouts of hot weather at this time of year in the past. In 1956, temperatures reached 47C (117F) between August 20 and 26, when some 600 people died as a result of the heat. The previous year, temperatures hit 45C (113F) between August 10 and 16. As for this year, the highest temperature was recorded Saturday, August 14, when thermometers at the National Observatory in Athens showed 41C (106F), according to head of research, Haris Kambezidis. According to data collected by the observatory, since 1998 temperatures have broken the 40C (104F) barrier more regularly than in previous years. Kambezidis said that in the 13 years since then, at some point in the summer, the temperature has exceeded 40C in 11 of those years. However, in the 18 years before then, temperatures reached 40C just six times.