PARIS — Records for heat and dryness tumbled across Western Europe during April, national weather services said on Monday, as warm air from Africa combining with the effects of a changing climate drove up temperatures and reduced rain.
German officials said that April was the eighth consecutive month of higher- than-normal temperatures, while the French national weather service observed that April marked the thirteenth straight month of unusually warm conditions.
“The sustained period of above-average temperatures across a number of countries is undoubtedly linked to global warming,” said Patrick Galois, a forecaster at Meteo France. In France May, June and July are also expected to be warmer than the seasonal average, he said.
The British Met Office said last week that April – and the 12 months ending in April – were set to be the warmest for nearly 350 years, when records, known as the Central England Temperature, started to be kept.
Definitive figures are to be released on Tuesday, Met Office spokesman said.
In Italy, Luca Ciceroni, a meteorologist for Sky Italia’s 24-hour news channel, said in a telephone interview that the month will likely end up the hottest April on record.
Across much of Europe tourists and shoppers took advantage of another weekend of balmy weather.
In central Paris the sidewalks were chockablock with pedestrians on Monday afternoon, when fine and bright conditions resumed after thunderstorms late on Sunday.
Frankfurt took on a Mediterranean air as terraces, patios and outdoor dining tables around town overflowed with people.
Elsewhere, however, there was mounting unease about the effects of an early and sustained heat wave.
In the north of France, where the unseasonable warmth has struck hardest, farmers are irrigating more than usual, raising the prospect of water shortages if hot and dry conditions continue.
French wine makers also could face difficulties if a sudden cold snap ruins vines that matured unseasonably early.
German farmers already are complaining about devastation from the dryness.
“If there is no stable rainfall in the next ten days, we are facing a crop failure for barley, wheat and sugar beets,” Michael Lohse, a spokesperson for the German Farmers’ Association, told the most recent edition of Focus magazine. He warned of rising beer prices later in the year.
In some parts of Germany, authorities are advising citizens not to light so-called Walpurgisnacht fires, set each year to mark the coming of spring, because the dry and brittle conditions raise the risk of forest fires.
Germany scored a springtime hat-trick, with April setting records in all three of those categories – a first since comparable records began in 1901.
The average monthly temperature across Germany was 11.7 degrees or 4.4 degrees above normal, beating a previous record of 10.6 degrees set in 1961.
The sun shone for 283 hours, about 80 percent more than the average for April. The previous sunniest April on record was 1968, when 217 hours of sunshine were logged.
In the Rhineland, in the western part of Germany, there were 15 days of temperatures above 25 degrees, more than during an average July. It was exceptionally dry; rainfall was only 7 percent of the normal level for the month.
In Karlsruhe, a city in the southwestern part of Germany near the French border, and Giessen, a city north of Frankfurt, there was no rain at all recorded as the month was closing, and none was expected on Monday evening.
In France, it was the hottest April in at least a century, according to Galois of Meteo France.
Lille and Reims, in northeastern France, had not received a drop of rain during the entire month of April and Galois said none was expected on Monday night.
Average afternoon temperatures in the south of France were about four degrees above normal during April, and about seven degrees above normal in northern parts of the country.
Records for daily temperatures were set in Lille, where it reached 28 degrees on April 15, and in the southern town Orange, where it was 30 degrees on April 24.
Strasbourg, near the French-German border, received double the usual amount of sunshine during April while parts of the country basked under the sunshine for a daily average of 11 hours and 30 minutes – the maximum possible for the time of the year.
Ciceroni, of Sky Italia, said that several surveys showed that in the north and much of central Italy, the temperature in April was 6 to 7 degrees warmer than the historic average.
By James Kanter
Published: Monday, April 30, 2007