August brings fierce heat to Europe and storms to Atlantic

Aheatwave has brought sweltering conditions to much of north-west Europe and the UK this month. Temperatures have exceeded 30C (86F) across France for several days, climbing to the low 40s in the south-west of the country. The heat has exacerbated a drought, with 72 of 96 regional departments subject to water restrictions.

Europe is not alone in experiencing intense heat. High temperatures in California have resulted in increased demand for electricity as residents increasingly rely on air conditioning.

The hot and arid conditions are contributing to a drought across the state and a resurgence of wildfires. The dry weather is not confined to California and much of the south-western US is experiencing drought owing to a weak monsoon.

On 13 August, in more moist climes, Tropical Storm Josephine became the earliest-forming ā€œJā€ storm in the Atlantic basin. Storms are named in alphabetical order, so Josephine is the 10th to be named this season, which starts on 1 June.

The previous earliest ā€œJā€ storm was Tropical Storm Jose in 2005. Josephine, which is currently north of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, is expected to turn north and then north-east as it weakens.