Tenerife fires displace 26,000 as WMO calls heat the ‘new norm’

By Laureen Fagan - 19 August 2023 at 7:54 pm
Tenerife fires displace 26,000 as WMO calls heat the ‘new norm’

More than 26,000 people have faced evacuation as fires on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, continued to blaze.

The information account for emergency services said Saturday that people have been sent to shelters from affected regions including Los Realejos in the northern part of the island, which saw expanded evacuations. Firefighters continued to drop water and battle the wildfire in and around northern communities like Güímar and La Orotava. So far, tourist areas popular with Europeans have not been in harm’s way.

The fires on Tenerife broke out earlier this week amid a regional heat wave.

“Spain, including Canary Islands, and Portugal also experienced extreme heat, fueling an extremely severe fire risk,” said the World Meteorological Association on Friday. “As of 17 August, the Tenerife wildfire continued out of control, with more than 2600 hectares burnt area and people evacuated in some sites.”

The organization said dry conditions, maximum temperatures above 30°C, night temperatures above 20°C, and peak wind gusts above 50 kilometers per hour were observed on Tenerife on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Spain’s AEMET weather service.

The WMO said the Tenerife fire occurs as places around the globe, from the heat wave in Japan to Canada’s wildfires to the rare impacts of the anticipated Hurricane Hilary on Southern California, are experiencing a “new norm.”

“This is the new normal and does not come as a surprise,” said Alvaro Silva, a climate expert with WMO. “The frequency and intensity of many extremes, such as heatwaves and heavy precipitation, have increased in recent decades. There is high confidence that human induced climate change from greenhouse emissions, is the main driver.”

Image: Bomberos de Tenerife

Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at @laureen@m.ai6yr.org

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