Europe sweltered Saturday in intense heat with temperatures hitting near-record highs of 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) in Portugal, while elsewhere the high temperatures, exacerbated fires and melted the asphalt on highways. Some predictions have said certain regions could see highs of 48C, which would break Portugal's record of 47.4C from 2003. Dozens of people were killed in two major forest fires previous year.
Temperatures hit 44C in Córdoba in Spain and in Cuba in Portugal today, with the temperature expected to hit 46C tomorrow in Odemira in southern Portugal.
While fires are an annual problem in much of Europe, the hot, dry conditions for an extended period of time made those fires much more likely.
Europe's heatwave gripped Spain and Portugal, as governments checked for forest fires, a Budapest game reserve fed its animals iced snacks and a Finnish supermarket invited customers to sleep over to stay cool.
Spain's weather agency, Aemet, has issued red warnings for heat in parts of the southwestern Extremadura and Andalucia regions Saturday, while swathes of the rest of the country are under orange or yellow alerts for heat.
Very hot weather is expected to continue into August and there are, as yet, no signs of the hot weather breaking.
Nicola Maxey from the Met Office says: "Temperatures will increase by a couple of degrees day by day with highs in the upper 20Cs quite widely by Friday and into the low 30Cs in places at the weekend".
People observe from outside their homes as fire gets closer to their village
Temperatures in Spain and Portugal will remain above 40C until Sunday at least.
In southern Spain, the heat continued to pound the tourist city of Cordoba reaching 44 C.
Climate change means that extreme temperatures are more likely, Mitchell said, adding that by 2040, temperatures like the ones that Europe is now facing could become "the new normal".
"I've been here in the summer but it has never been this hot".
Hot air blowing in from Africa is turning Europe's tourism season into a cookoff, a kind of relentless sauna bath that is melting Sweden's glaciers and ruining crops for farmers.
A spokesman said: "We'll fry again". In Sweden, July was a record hot month and wildfires burnt in parts of the country.
Dozens of the country's Baltic Sea beaches have "no swimming" warnings due to health risks from algae blooms.