“We are observing weather since 1833 and we never experienced these kind of temperatures,” David Dehenauw, chief forecaster at the Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, told the BBC.
The Netherlands experienced record high temperatures of 39.4ºC (102.9ºF) on Thursday. Germany’s weather service said temperatures there had also risen to a new record high on Thursday, with the mercury hitting 41.5ºC (106.7ºF) in the northern town of Lingen, breaching the previous high set earlier in the day. Belgium, too, recorded its highest-ever temperature this week, hitting 40.2ºC (104.4ºF) close to the city of Liege on Wednesday.
Paris also broke its all-time record temperatures on Thursday, when national meteorological service Meteo France recorded 41ºC (105.8ºF) at 1:42 p.m. local time. Other French cities, including Lille, Rouen, and Dijon, were also expected to break their temperature records on Thursday. France recorded its all-time highest temperature — 45.9ºC (114.6ºF) — in June in Gallargues-le-Montueux, a town in the southeastern part of the country.
Thursday was the hottest July day on record in the United Kingdom, where temperatures reached 38.1ºC (100.5ºF) in Cambridge at 3:37 p.m. local time, according to the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather service. That was just short of the U.K.’s all-time high temperature of 38.5ºC (101.3ºF). Similarly high temperatures were also recorded in west London, where the thermometer reached 37.9ºC (100.2ºF).
More record temperatures were expected to be hit later in the day in cities across Europe.
It’s difficult to scientifically link any specific weather event to climate change, experts say. But meteorologists and others generally agree that climate change is causing more extreme weather events of all kinds across the world.
“High pressure over Europe has brought a lot of sunny weather which, combined with hot air coming up from North Africa, has led to the heat wave across Europe,” Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, tells TIME about Europe’s latest heat wave.
“It is not possible to link any spell of hot weather to man-made climate change, categorically,” he adds. “However, the average U.K. summer temperature between 2008-2017 has risen by 0.7ºC when compared with the period 1961-1990. This rise makes the possibility of extreme heat events more likely than before.”
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