Italy placed 16 cities under red alert for potential health hazards and Portugal warned 75% that wildfires were a real threat to their regions.
According to data from Spain's State Meteorological Agency, the new record was set at Montoro in Cordoba at 5:10 pm. If it is confirmed, this would surpass the previous record of 46.9°C (116.42 F) set in July 2017.
This high heat follows a report from Sicily on Wednesday of 48.8 Celsius (119.84 Fahrenheit). The temperature is still awaiting verification. It would be the highest recorded European record.
The current European heat record was set in 1977 by Athens at 48.0 Celsius (118.4 F).
Few people ventured out of their homes in the southern Spanish province Granada where temperatures reached 45.4 Celsius (113.7 F). People who did venture outside sought shade, and took photos of the rising temperatures from public thermometers. Some restaurants had sprinklers that spray water on their customers. Ice cream parlors were thriving.
Miriam Garcia, a student, regretted that she had to brave the heat.
She said that it was very hot and she had to drink water, put on suncream, and stop to get a drink at the bar occasionally. It would be more comfortable to be at home than on the streets, it's so hot!
Dominic Roye, a University of Santiago de Compostela climate scientist, stated that the Sahara Desert's hot air has been generating heat for days and has fueled wildfires in hundreds of Mediterranean countries. He said it doesn't seem likely to end anytime soon.
"The heat wave that we are currently experiencing is extreme, and many people are saying it's normal, just like in summer. Roye stated that it is not as hot as this.
The World Meteorological Organization said temperatures being recorded in the Mediterranean region go well beyond the typical hot, dry August weather and instead "are extreme, and what we might expect from climate change. "
Roye was concerned about those who can't afford air conditioning or other vulnerable persons, such as the homeless and outdoor workers, when night temperatures could exceed 25 degrees Celsius (77 F).
The Spanish State Meteorological Agency reported that 24 heat waves were recorded in the past decade, double the number of heat waves recorded in the previous three decades.
"It is vital to keep cool and hydrated and pay special attention to elderly, disabled, or babies. It is important to take extreme precautions to avoid forest fires," said Ruben del Campo (spokesman for Spanish meteorological services).
Portugal placed 14 of its 18 districts in the Iberian Peninsula on alert Monday night. This was due to the "significantly elevated risk" of wildfires. The forecasted temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius meant that the government had to place them all on high alert. This would still be below Portugal's record of 47.3 degrees Celsius (11.7 F) in the Alentejo region.
Italians sought refuge at the beach and in the mountains during the Lucifer anti-cyclone, which brought hot air from Africa during Italy’s peak summer holiday weekend. As heat warnings were extended to 16 cities, authorities raised concerns about seniors and other vulnerable people.
Italy's temperatures rose to 37°C (98.6 F) in Rome and Florence, where the Health Ministry issued a red alert.
High temperatures are expected to continue into Sunday's Ferragosto holiday, on the religious feast Of The Assumption Mary. This marks the annual exodus of Italian cities from the summer holidays.
Rome had drinking fountains that provided relief. Authorities kept tourists away form ornamental fountains such as the Trevi Fountain for fear of imitators like Anita Ekberg who soaked in "La Dolce Vita" in Rome.
"I put my head below the water at each fountain. I drink a lot, stay in the shade as much possible," said Alessia Pavani, who was visiting Brescia from the northern city.
The first signs of relief are expected to come from the north with storms starting Monday.
"More important than any other, fresh air from Atlantic will bring a cooler and greater ventilation that will sweep away humidity and make the air more breathable," Lt. Colonel Filippo Petrucci, the weather service of the Italian air force, told RAI state TV.
The heat wave has aggravated wildfires that have consumed forests in southern Italy, Greece, Turkey and North Africa.
North Africa has been hot for days across the Mediterranean Sea. According to the online TSA news agency, the Algerian National Office of Meteorology published a bulletin Saturday stating that temperatures were high in many regions of the north at 44 C (115 F) and with spikes as high as 47 C (116.6 F).
According to climate scientists, there is no doubt that climate change is a result of the burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. This is causing extreme events such as heat waves and droughts.