Portugal issues highest heat alert

Lisbon, July 12 (IANS) Portugal has issued a "red warning," the highest on the scale, with hot and dry weather forecast for the coming days.
 
Portugal issues highest heat alert

Lisbon, July 12 (IANS) Portugal has issued a "red warning," the highest on the scale, with hot and dry weather forecast for the coming days.

As of Tuesday, Portugal will register "very high values of maximum temperature," with a large part of it expected to reach a maximum above 40 degrees Celsius during the next few days, the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) said on Monday in a statement.

Portugal on Monday entered a "contingency situation" for five days, decreed by the government to allow the civil protection authority to use restrictive measures to prevent and combat outbreak of forest fires, Xinhua news agency reported.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Monday warned residents of the risk of fires in hot weather in a statement to the press during a visit to the Emergency Protection and Relief Unit in the city of Coimbra in central Portugal.

He appealed to residents in rural areas affected by the heatwave not to "work with agricultural machinery".

"The country can have all the means in the world, but these weather conditions, with extreme temperatures, extreme drought, with voluminous fuel and excellent conditions for burning, any carelessness immediately triggers a huge fire," said Costa.

High temperatures are forecast for the regions of Alentejo, where 46 degrees Celsius can be recorded, in Tagus Valley with 45 degrees Celsius, and in the northeast province of Tras-os-Montes between 40 and 44 degrees Celsius, according to the IPMA.

It warned that "wind intensity will be weak to moderate," with relative humidity "less than 20 per cent in vast areas of the interior" of the country.

"This very hot weather situation results from the circulation of a very hot and dry air mass, originating in North Africa, which will persist until July 15, with temperature values above or much above average, except the coast," it said.

--IANS

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