Extreme weather in Europe has seen heat records set in parts of Spain with temperatures reaching 40C, while some regions in Germany were hit by ferocious storms with tornadoes injuring at least 30 people.
The contrast in conditions across the continent could not be more evident with blistering heat baking Spain while dangerous storms sweep across parts of Germany.
An alert was issued for large parts of Spain after a wave of intense heat began building.
A mass of hot, dry air carrying dust from North Africa has pushed temperatures up to 15C above average, with the mercury topping 40C (104F) in some regions.
The State Meteorological Agency said it expected the “unusual and extreme” temperatures to peak on Saturday.
“These will probably be among the warmest temperatures we’ve seen in May in the 21st century,” said agency spokesman Ruben del Campo.
In the southern Spanish city of Jaen, the temperature climbed to 38.7C (101.7F) – 15C above the seasonal average – in a record for the month of May.
While in the central city of Cuenca the daily low temperature of 19.5C (67.1F) was two degrees higher than the previous May minimum.
The high temperatures are forecast to push northeast in the coming days, with conditions not expected to ease until after Sunday.
Despite three regions being under yellow alert (Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Madrid) and one under an orange alert (Andalusia) none were placed under the highest red alert, which indicates an extreme risk.
Storms in Germany kill two and leave at least 30 injured
Meanwhile, at least 30 people have been injured, 10 of them seriously, after a tornado struck the western city of Paderborn, police said.
Authorities said the winds, which meteorologists warned could reach up to 130 kmph (81 mph), blew away roofs, toppled trees and sent debris flying for miles.
“Thirty to 40 injured, at least 10 of them seriously,” Paderborn police said on Friday after the tornado.
Officials urged people to remain in their houses so as not to hamper rescue efforts or endanger themselves.
As heavy rain and hail swept across the country, the western German town of Lippstadt was also heavily damaged by a tornado, officials said.
A church steeple in the town was toppled and the German news agency dpa reported that more than 100 people were temporarily trapped in a local open-air pool after fallen trees blocked the exit.
Police said two French nationals died after their motorised paraglider was caught by a strong gust of wind and crashed in a field in Germany.
The paragliders, carrying a man and woman, left from an airfield in Ballenstedt, about 109 miles southwest of Berlin, according to authorities in Saxony-Anhalt.
Shortly after issuing a warning, police said the pair, both 59, “appear to have been hit by a gust of wind that caused the paraglider to collapse and the air vehicle crashed onto a field from a height of about 40 metres”.
Schools in the western city of Cologne closed before midday to give students time to make it home safely before the storms hit.
Further south in Ahrweiler county, all schools remained closed on Friday.
More than 130 people were killed in the region after it was hit by a flash flood in July 2021.