Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have all set new national temperature records for June as a scorching heatwave escalates in large parts of western and central Europe.
Thursday will likely see France surpass its previous June record of 41.FC (106F), set on 21 June 2003, according to Sky News’ weather presenter Isobel Lang.
The country’s highest ever temperature, 44.1C (111.38F), was recorded at two separate locations in southern France on 12 August during the same 2003 heatwave.
Met Office forecaster Matthew Box said an “enormous reservoir” of hot air from the Sahara has engulfed the continent, which is expected to bring temperatures surpassing 40C (104F) to some areas over the next three days.
Other parts of Europe have broken their June records, with German weather agency Deutscher Wetterdienst saying a preliminary reading showed the mercury reached 38.6C (101.5F) in Coschen on Wednesday, near the Polish border.
The new record is a tenth of a degree Celsius higher than the previous national record for June in 1947 in southwestern Germany.
Radzyn in Poland also recorded a new national high of 38.2C (100.76F), while Doksany in the Czech Republic experienced 38.9C (102.02F).
And officials warned it will get hotter as the heatwave is expected to peak later this week.
Parts of northeastern Spain could reach 45C (113F) on Friday, with Spanish officials warning of an “extreme” risk of forest fires in some areas.
A tweet that went viral earlier in the week from Spanish meteorologist Silvia Laplana described the situation as “hell”.
She added: “Of course in summer it is hot, but when we talk about a heatwave so extensive and intense, which, predictably, will break records, that is NOT normal.”
UK temperatures are expected to hit 28C (82F) or 29C (84F) at the end of the week, and could surpass 30C (86F) by Saturday.
Those heading to Glastonbury this weekend have been advised to take extra sunscreen and seek shelter from the sun.
In Germany, authorities have placed speed restrictions on short stretches of the motorway in the northeastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, where such limits are not usually imposed.
This is due to concerns that scorching temperatures could damage road surfaces.
Meanwhile, a forest fire has ripped through 100 hectares of land in an area near Lieberoser, 70 miles southeast of Berlin, prompting a large emergency response.
More than half of France has been placed on an orange heat alert – the second highest alert – as it braces for record-breaking temperatures.
Dozens of schools were closed on Wednesday due to a lack of air conditioning, with more closures expected toward the end of the week.
National exams on Thursday and Friday have also been postponed after education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer deemed it would be too hot.
Professor Hannah Cloke, a natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said the heat along with a build-up of humidity was a “potentially lethal combination”, with children and the elderly especially at risk.
Vast preparations for the heatwave have been made across the country, including the designation of “cool places”, the installation of temporary fountains, and a particular focus on protecting the most vulnerable.
Charities in Paris are also roaming the streets, handing water to the homeless.
These extra measures have been implemented in part due to France’s wariness of seeing repeated results of a European heatwave in 2003, which led to the deaths of 20,000 people – 15,000 of whom were French.
Many of those who died were elderly people living alone in their apartments, or in retirement homes that lacked air conditioning.
Switzerland’s national weather service Meteo Swiss has issued a red heat alert – the highest level – in areas in the south, including Basel.
Stefan Rahmstorf, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said record-breaking temperatures are now happening far more often.
“Monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate,” he said.