Syracuse, a city on the southeast coast of Italy island, saw temperatures of 48.8C (119.8F) on Wednesday, according to the Sicily agro-meteorological information service (SIAS) of the region.
The highest temperature ever recorded on the European continent is 48C (118.4F), recorded in Athens in 1977.
The temperature in Sicily has yet to be independently confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which will have to verify the recording to set a new European temperature record.
Randy Cerveny, the agency’s representative for weather records, said it was “suspicious, so we’re not going to make an immediate decision.”
“It doesn’t sound very plausible,” added Cerveny. “But we’re not going to reject it. “
WMO spokesperson Sylvie Castonguay also urged caution: “Extreme weather and climate events are often sensationalized and labeled ‘records’ before they have been thoroughly and properly investigated. validated. “
But the near-record high pressure system currently over the Mediterranean could produce unprecedented heat somewhere, according to meteorologist Jeff Masters of Yale Climate Connections.
He said North Africa was flirting with record high temperatures.
On its Facebook page, SIAS said it was the highest temperature recorded across the network since it was installed in 2002.
The Italian Air Force’s weather service said it did not record temperatures approaching that high level on Wednesday. But he said his stations are in other locations, so variations are expected.
Commenting on the reported figure, the mayor of Syracuse, Francesco Italia, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the toll “worries us”.
“We are devastated by the fires and our ecosystem – one of the richest and most valuable in Europe – is in danger.
“We are in the midst of an emergency. “
A heat wave driven by warm air from North Africa has spread over much of the Mediterranean in recent days.
It has contributed to massive forest fires that have claimed dozens of lives in Italy, Turkey and Algeria.
More than 3,000 firefighting operations have been carried out in Sicily and Calabria in the past 12 hours, firefighters said on Twitter. Seven planes were called in to put out the flames from above.
Huge forest fires also ravaged parts of Greece for a week, destroying homes and forcing many to evacuate.