Warning of severe thunderstorms and blistering heat

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The first heatwave of the year is currently sweeping Austria. It is getting hotter daily, with the mercury shooting up to 36 degrees on Friday.

On Friday and from night to Saturday, the severe weather center warns of severe thunderstorms. While the heat will peak in eastern Austria on Friday at up to 36 degrees, thunderstorms are expected to start in the west. The thunderstorms will then spread eastwards, according to meteorologists.

Friday should be quite sunny at first. In the west, it will be foehn at 22 to 30 degrees at first, with the first rain showers and thunderstorms possible in the morning. The first rain showers will then cool the air temperature.

There is a risk of severe weather in the east, especially on Friday afternoon and night to Saturday, with heavy rain, large hail and squalls. The potential for severe weather will decrease again on Saturday as the energy-rich air has cleared out.

Heat protection plan revised

Politicians want to better prepare the population for frequent heatwaves in the future. The National Heat Protection Plan has been in place in Austria for seven years and has been revised due to climate change.

At a press conference in Vienna on Wednesday, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) announced that more information will be provided on measures and the provinces are to intensify their exchange. Up to 500 heat-related deaths are reported every year. Infants, young children, the elderly and the chronically ill are particularly affected.

Heat is underestimated

Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (GÖG) has now adapted the national plans to international standards on behalf of the ministry. Informing the population is particularly important, as heat continues to be underestimated.

The federal states are responsible for implementing measures due to extreme temperatures and have each drawn up their heat protection plans.
However, in the event of extreme heat from a perceived temperature of 40 degrees or long-lasting, intense heat waves, the State Crisis and Disaster Management can also be convened to coordinate the emergency measures of all those involved.
Everyone is affected, both healthy and sick people, said the Managing Director of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), Johannes Pleiner-Duxneuner. “Excessive heat impairs the ability to regulate body temperature and has a direct impact on cardiovascular diseases.”

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