Heat wave is actually not rare phenomenon that takes place in summer. When the temperature is 30 degrees Celsius and higher it is difficult to breathe. Heat wave is especially difficult to be endured in big overcrowded cities where there are a lot of cars, buses and plants, their emissions make the temperature even higher. The victims of heat wave are usually people who suffer from heart diseases or have problems with blood pressure. Timely heat alert can prevent the number of victims of heat wave.
The heat wave is inevitably been linked weather extremes that are one of the consequences of global warming. An argument against global warming contributing to the heat wave is that global warming generally holds that the Atlantic current would shut down or slow, actually making Europe cooler. Global dimming is also linked to the heat wave, the theory being that Europe's reduced pollution levels since the turn of the century have reduced dimming's masking effect on global warming.
Heat waves were registered during the last century and the beginning of the present century has also brought some heat waves that killed a lot of people in Europe, particularly in France. The highest temperature ever recorded was 136 F (57.8 C) at Al'Aziziyah, Libya on September 13, 1922. This was in the shade! In 1955, August 31 - September 7, heat wave of 100 degrees Fahrenheit killed 946 people in Los Angeles. In 1988 in Central and Eastern US a severe drought and heat wave killed an estimated 5,000-10,000 people, including heat stress-related deaths. Damages reached $40 billion. In 1995 in Chicago in July 739 people died in record heat wave. Summer of 1999: a prolonged heat wave killed 271 people in the Midwest and Northeast. In 2000 during spring and summer Southern US suffered from severe drought and heat killed 140 people. Damages were estimated at $4 billion.
Three years later in 2003 in August a heat wave with temperatures as high as 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) struck Europe. Because summer temperatures in much of northern Europe rarely exceed 30 °C (86 °F), the area was unprepared for the disaster. The death toll of the heat wave has been estimated to exceed 10,000. In relation with the heat wave, wildfires killed 18 people in Portugal.
That summer of 2003 was one of the hottest ever in Europe; this led to a health crisis in certain countries as well as considerable impact on crops. As many as 50,000 people died from the 2003 European heat wave. Crops suffered from drought in southern Europe, but conversely in the north they actually did very well. Shortfalls in wheat harvest occurred as a result of the long drought. The heat wave greatly accelerated the ripening of grapes; also, the heat dehydrates the grapes, making for more concentrated juice. By mid-August, the grapes in certain vineyards had already reached their nominal sugar content.Because of that, and also of the impending change to rainy weather, the harvest was started much earlier than usual (e.g. in mid-August for areas that are normally harvested in September).