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Western Europe will face potentially "deadly" heat wave this week

Heat wave sweeps across Europe

Western Europe is expecting a potentially devastating heat wave that could reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, this heat wave is being compared to one it experienced almost 16 years ago when thousands died.

The European Union's Emergency Response Coordination Center warned the heat wave is expected to peak by Thursday afternoon, where temperatures can reach more than 96 degrees Fahrenheit and rise above 104 degrees throughout most of the continent. The World Meteorological Organization also cautioned the heat could become "deadly."

The EU's Joint Research Centre (JRC) said warm air masses from Africa are causing the extreme weather, which will gradually build up by Wednesday. Spain will be first to feel intense weather before it spreads across the continent — all the way to the Czech Republic, according to the agency.

Temperatures are likely to be this hot until the end of month and early July, especially over France and southern Spain, JRC said.  

Silvia Laplana, a forecaster for RTVE in Spain, summed up the impending weather in a tweet: "El infierno is coming." Infierno translates to hell in Spanish.

CBS News meteorologist Jeff Berardelli described the weather event as an "atmospheric traffic jam."

"There's an extreme atmospheric steering pattern across the Atlantic," Berardelli said. "Instead of moving quickly west to east, the jet stream is very amplified, trapping weather systems in place [and] creating an atmospheric traffic jam. Because of this, a large storm system is stuck in the eastern Atlantic, west of Europe. That storm is continually pumping heat northward into Europe. This is creating not only record hot air, but also a long-lasting heat wave especially in southern Europe."

France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium could all see record temperatures for June over the next few days — and are taking necessary precautions.

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People cool themselves down in the fountain of the Trocadero esplanade in Paris with the Eiffel Tower on the background. Forecasters say Europeans will feel sizzling heat this week with temperatures soaring as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit in an "unprecedented" June heat wave hitting much of western Europe. Getty

Paris has activated an extreme heat plan, BBC News reports, where part of that plan involves postponing thousands of school exams, leaving pools open later and setting up temporary fountains and mist machines. Water will also be distributed and a care plan will be put into effect for vulnerable people.

France is particularly mindful of the incoming heat wave. In 2003, there were nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths in the country during the heat wave, which had eight consecutive days of temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

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