Belgium is not alone in experiencing an early heatwave. Other European countries, from Spain to the United Kingdom and France are recording extraordinarily high temperatures for the time of year.

After the mercury rose to 34°C on Friday, Belgium is once again feeling the heat on Saturday. This is mainly a result of warm wind blowing upwards from France, where two-thirds of the country is on a red or orange alert on Saturday.

Meteo-France, the country’s meteorological institute, warned that the unprecedented, premature heatwave could smash previous records by the time storms move in from the west on Sunday. The country has never in recorded history surpassed 40°C this early in June.

“France is experiencing an intense heatwave of unprecedented precocity, justifying a red alert. This is accompanied by numerous temperature records,” one statement on the body’s website read.

More than 42°C

In central France, the temperatures have already reached 39°C but could reach between 38°C and 41°C in Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, Centre-Val-de-Loire, West Bourgogne and Ile-de-France.

The heat has already broken June records in at least 11 communes, including in Durban-Corbières, in the Aude department, where it was 42.3°C on Friday, in Carcassonne, where temperatures reached 40.7°C (the previous record was 39.8°C on 21/6/2003), in Toulouse/Francazal with 39.6°C (previous record 39.3°C on 21/6/2003) and Saintes with 40.2°C (previous record 39.1°C on 29/6/1950).

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As a result, many festive, sports and cultural events have been cancelled in departments coded red. These include a war veterans’ pilgrimage that was to have been held in Lourdes to mark the 82nd anniversary of General de Gaulle’s Appeal of 18 June 1940.

The earliest major heatwave in Spain in more than 40 years was also called by the State Meteorological Agency. One of the highest temperatures recorded in this heat wave so far was in Andújar, a region in southern Spain, where it was 44.2°C on Friday.