Weather forecasters claim that this is the last day of the prolonged heat wave that grills residents and tourists visiting the country. However this last day of the heat wave is the most painful one. In Athens and in Sparta, Peloponnese, the mercury reached 43 degrees Celsius in the shadow.
At 4:28 pm the thermometer at my balcony shows 40° C in the shadow. The sea in the south horizon has melted together with the sky into a very pale blue. Towards the west of Athens the view of Tourkovoinia mountain is prohibeded by a cloud of air pollution.
Combination of heat, humidity and absense of winds has brought the deadly cocktail of air poluttion above the heads of residents and visitors of the Greek capital.
High Ozone Levels & Air Pollution
Athens By Smog
The high concentration of ozone values prompted the Greek Health Ministry to issue again a warning – for fourth consequent day – to the public urging the people to remain indoors during the hottest hours of Monday at noon and early afternoon. Especially people with health problems, children and elderly.
High ozone levels can cause respiratory problems, coughing, wheezing and stinging of the eyes or throat.
According to Greek Ministry for Environment, Energy & Climate Change, ozone levels were measured to be between 227 μg/m³ and 235 μg/m³ in some Athens areas at 3 p.m.. However ozone levels exceeded the alarm level of 240μg/m³: with 271 μg/m³ in Lykovrisi and 343 μg/m³ in Thrakomacedones area.
The acceptable ozone level for people’s health is 120-180 μg/m³.
Traffic Restrictions Ban Lifted
Traffic restrictions regulating the number of cars entering downtown Athens have been suspended today until the end of August. The restrictions allow cars to enter downtown Athens depending on the registration numbers (single or even) on every second day. The measure applies only from September to middle July, as authorities assume many residents of the city are away for vacations.
As the economic crisis plagues the Greeks causing them to limit their summer vacations, I wonder whether the skyrocketing of today’s ozone values have to do with the lifting of the traffic restrictions.
Acropolis Shut Down Earlier
The grilling temperatures and the air pollution prompted the Ministry of Culture to close the Acropolis and the Ancient Theater of Dionysos earlier than usual.
“The Greek capital’s most famous archaeological monument, the Acropolis, will be closed from 2 p.m. on Monday due to high temperatures, the Culture Ministry confirmed following an appeal by the association of workers at archaeological sites.
Forecasts by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service said that temperatures in Athens are expected to reach 42 Celsius (107.6F) by midday Monday, prompting authorities to close the Acropolis, as well as Ancient Theater of Dionysus at its foot, in order to protect the public and staff from the heat.” (ekathimerini)
And when we survive this Monday, we will be able to enjoy the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when temperatures are expected to fall by 6-10 degrees.
I can’t tell you for sure, but usually fresh heat waves hit Greece end of July/beginning of August.
PS Odd enough, I didn’t feel the effects (coughing) of high ozone levels this morning, which normally set at 11 a.m. – or maybe I got used to the constant air pollution…