A building heat wave in Portugal and Spain threatens to topple national and all-time high temperature records in a continuation of a series of remarkable heat waves that have roasted the Northern Hemisphere this summer.
Parts of the Iberian peninsula are bracing themselves for a surge in temperatures amid warnings of the first heatwave of the year.
Gunhild Rosqvist, a Stockholm University professor in geography, said the glacier lost four meters (13 feet, 2 ½ inches) of snow in July alone as Sweden endured record temperatures that triggered dozens of wildfires, even in the Arctic Circle.
Any chance of the UK's heat record of 38.5C (101.3F) being broken looks to have passed for now, but it will stay warm and dry for most until the end of the week.
Met Office forecaster Bonnie Diamond added: 'The intensity and duration of the heat in Spain and Portugal will likely have impacts on tourists, who may not be acclimatised to such high temperatures'. It's not out of the question for Portugal to reach a groundbreaking 50°C, surpassing not only the national record but also the European record, which is now at 48°C (recorded in Athens, Greece, in July 1977).
In Spain, heat warnings have been issued for 41 of the country's 50 provinces.
Italy has also issued red alerts across its centre and north, which includes the tourist hotspots of Rome, Florence and Venice.
The experts say both Spain and Portugal will be hit by an extreme heatwave that might see the hottest-ever temperatures recorded in continental Europe.
'The South and East will be hottest and it will be a warm weekend for most, although cooler in the North'.
"The highest maximum temperatures on Saturday will be in the Alentejo and Tejo region of Portugal. where 46 or 47C is possible". In Portugal, local media said temperatures could beat Death Valley in California, one of the world's hottest places.
The hot air mass coming in from Africa is also bringing dust from the Sahara Desert, making the sky a dark yellow or dusky orange in places. Already on Thursday, the high temperature in Alvega, Portugal reached 44.6°C, or about 112°F, according to the U.K. Met Office.
Meanwhile in Spain, media reports said two people died of heatstroke in the southeastern Murcia region, while a third - believed to be homeless - died in Barcelona.