Sweltering heat wave blankets Europe at height of tourist season

Triple-digit temperatures in Europe

ROME Heat warnings went into effect in much of Europe on Thursday during the height of the tourist season. It was 104 degrees in Madrid, Spain, and 106 in Lisbon, Portugal, with temperatures expected to rise even higher on Friday.

The culprit is hot air blowing from Africa, leaving Europeans and summer visitors sweltering.

Jessica Pippett, who was visiting from Nashville, likened the experience to a "never-ending sauna" at Rome's Spanish Steps.

In Sweden, a mountaintop glacier melted so much that it's no longer that country's highest peak. Satellite imagery from northern Europe shows the transition from lush green in late June to burned-out-brown in less than a month.

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Satellite images from northern Europe shows the transition in landscape in less than a month. ESA via APTN

Farmers in Germany are demanding more than $1 billion in aid to deal with the drought, and so many beers have been sold there, it's straining supplies at German breweries.

In parks, where hoses were no longer sufficient, water cannons were used. At Rome's zoo, a tiger was given a block of ice, while hippos were fed refreshing watermelon, and human inhabitants were given bottles of water.

The Howell family from Texas said they were trying to stay as hydrated as possible, but noted it's hot in Dallas too.

"We'd rather be in Italy drinking the water here than in Texas," said Kristen Howell.

In Rome, hundreds of fountains offer a little relief. In Finland, a supermarket chain said it would stay open late to let its customers enjoy the air conditioning, and another store in Germany is selling time in its walk-in refrigerator.