Drought, fire, electricity outages and water shortages are among the effects of a heat wave that has afflicted Southeast Europe during the past weeks. Rivers are drying up, and crops are being destroyed at an UNPRECEDENTED level. Even when the searing temperatures have abated, the impact – in terms of the economy – could be felt for a long time to come.
Photo Below: Romania could lose as much as 90% of its crops this year. [Gabriel Petrescu]
Romania has already lost almost 1.7 million hectares of its grain crop, out of a total 2.8 million. Experts project that up to 90% of the crop will eventually be destroyed. Meanwhile, specialists with the Romanian Waters Administration warn that rivers will dry up in the coming weeks. Hydropower production is down. The largest plant in Romania saw a drop in power production of 40%. Authorities warn that the heat wave could lead to the closure of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant and the suspension of bilateral energy export contracts. At least 33 heat-related deaths have been recorded. Serbia has also been sweltering, with temperatures soaring as high as 42 degrees Celsius in some areas. The heat has also resulted in several fires, the biggest of which broke out in the Stara Planina mountains, about 300km southwest of Belgrade. An estimated 300 hectares of grassland and shrubbery have burned, and firefighters were unable to control the blaze for three days. In Kosovo, the authorities decided July 24th to declare a state of emergency. Fires have broken out in the municipalities of Gjilan, Kamenica, Ferizaj, Peja, Prizren and Suhareka
Hani i Elezit. Heat has caused a number of fires across Montenegro.
Photo Below: Albanians flock to the beach to cool off. [Getty Images]
The heat and drought have further exacerbated Albania's perennial summer energy shortages. The country depends on hydropower, which has sunk to HISTORICALLY LOW LEVELS. The state energy corporation has been cutting power for consumers for two to four hours a day. Officials also report fires across the country, In Macedonia, a state of emergency was already in effect, due to a previous heat wave in June. Temperatures that have reached 43 degrees Celsius have caused more than 200 fires in Macedonia, destroying more than 4,000 hectares of forests and pastures. Fires burned all over Greece last week as temperatures remained high. Scientists warn that loss of forest acreage has an effect on Athens that is equivalent to a doubling of vehicles overnight. In other words, Athens seems to have lost an essential part of its natural cooling mechanism. In Croatia, the number of drownings has doubled as people flock to the water in an attempt to seek relief from the heat. Although meteorologists are saying the temperatures are due to break, no rain is forecast for the region.