Soon such weather events will be so commonplace that they will no longer make the news.
Four people were killed by blazes that swept through the Turkish tourist regions of Antalya and Muğla, forcing thousands of holidaymakers to be evacuated from their hotels by a flotilla of boats.
Throughout the country, firefighters battled more than 50 blazes. Dozens were hospitalised by the smoke. The Turkish meteorological office sees little likelihood of respite in the week ahead. Next week, Ankara and several other sites are set for temperatures more than 12C higher than the August average.
The heat intensity of wildfires in Turkey on Thursday was four times higher than anything on record for the nation. Conditions at the sites of dozens of other blazes throughout the country were tinder dry. Turkey’s 60-year temperature record had been broken the previous week when Cizre, a town in the south-east, registered 49.1C.
“Those numbers are off the scale compared to the last 19 years,” said Mark Parrington, a senior scientist in the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.
Residents of affected towns told reporters they had never seen anything like it.
Ibrahim Aydın, a farmer, said he had lost all his livestock and nearly been killed while fighting the flames. “Everything I had was burned to the ground. I lost lambs and other animals.” He pointed out. “This is not normal. This was like hell.”
Climate scientists have long predicted the Mediterranean will be hit hard by rising temperatures and changes in rainfall, driven by human emissions. Future wildfire risk is projected to increase in southern Europe, according to the last report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This year looks likely to continue the trend. The World Meteorological Organisation tweeted that extreme heat is hitting the wider Mediterranean region with temperatures forecast to rise well above 40C in inland areas of Italy, Greece, Tunisia and Turkey. It has urged preparations to prevent health and water supply problems.
Wildfires have already hit southern Greece, forcing evacuations of villages outside the western port city of Patras. Blazes are also reported in Bulgaria and Albania. The EU has issued its highest fire risk alert to places in Italy, Portugal, Spain and parts of North Africa. A large fire broke out on Thursday in Lebanon, where one person has died.