Hellish heat builds in Lithuania

  • 2001-07-26
  • Virgilijus Savickas
VILNIUS - For folks with a busy daily routine this July the weather has been hot as hell. But the extraordinarily hot summer is failing to stun Lithuanian meteorologists.

"The heat is not uncommon," Audrone Galvonaite, head of the Climatology Department of the Lithuanian Hydrometeorology Service at the Ministry of Environment told The Baltic Times.

"The hot weather invaded us from Africa. But people should not be frightened about global warming, as this process takes hundreds of years. It is only normal temperature fluctuations that happen every 10 years or so. The old records are far from being beaten."

Despite the exhausting heat, the record temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees F) in Zarasai (northeastern Lithuania) noted in 1959 has not been broken. Lithuania experienced a similar, unusually hot summer in 1994. The highest temperature so far this year in Lithuania has been 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees F).

The heat will not be falling this week, at least. "Temperatures on the coast are a little cooler than in the east of the country. It's possible that squalls and thunderstorms can form very quickly. The process for heavy rain or hail formation sometimes passes with astonishing rapidity. We can only issue a general warning that occasional storms are possible anywhere during the day," said Galvonaite.

The hot and annoying weather has brought plenty of raging storms with it. The weather disturbed Lithuania's sleepy midsummer public life when a controversial fence around Parliamentary Chairman Arturas Paulauskas' home in the Vilnius neighborhood of Tarande was blown down.

The same fence got a lot of media attention last summer when workers added an additional 0.77 hectares of land to the area without waiting for planning permission.

This summer storms and falling power lines have caused a great deal of damage to the energy supply company Lietuvos Energija, and 262 power substations were disconnected leaving 10,000 people without electricity.

Some hot days reported a record number of fires. According to data from the Fire Protection and Rescue Department, from 7 a.m. on July 16 until 7 a.m. on July 17, 62 fires broke out in Lithuania, the record number of fires this summer. Ten of them were caused by bolts of lightning.

On July 21, a lightning bolt struck and killed Irena Navickiene and her cow. The woman, aged 50, from the village of Stasine in the Kedainiai region, was hit at 6 p.m. just before it started to rain. She was giving water to the cow at the time.