Greeks rushed to the beach on Saturday, to take what will be the first swim of the summer for many, as temperatures rise in the country.
Despite a few days of lower temperatures and scattered rainstorms across the country, high temperatures and sunshine returned this weekend, causing a mass exodus out of city-dwellers toward the beach.
In some parts of Attica, the region where Athens is located, temperatures reached up to 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday, making it the perfect beach day.
Greek beach bars follow strict hygiene measures
Organized beach bars and restaurants reopened in the country in early May, and the iconic summertime establishments have to follow a strict set of hygiene measures due to the pandemic.
Health safety measures like physical distancing and masks – mainly for staff – will continue to apply at beach resorts.
Beach bars are not be allowed to play music, a measure that was also applied to restaurants, bars, and cafes when they reopened in May.
Explaining the ban on music, Greek health officials say that expert reports have indicated that ambient noise can contribute to the spread of the virus by forcing patrons to raise their voices, spreading more particles into the air, and come into closer proximity with one another.
Summer came earlier this year with high May temperatures
The month of May was one of the warmest Spring months in Greece in the last decade, according to the network of meteorological stations of the National Observatory of Athens.
In Central Greece, the Peloponnese and Crete, it was the warmest May at least since 2010, while for the Cyclades and the Dodecanese it was the second warmest during the same period.
More specifically, in Macedonia and Thrace, the average maximum temperature ranged 0.8 degrees Celsius higher than the average value (fourth highest of the decade).
In Western Greece it was 0.9 degrees Celsius higher (the fifth highest of the decade).
In Thessaly, it was 1.5 degrees Celsius higher (second highest of the decade after May 2013).
In Central Greece, the Peloponnese and Crete, it was 1.9, 2 and 2 degrees Celsius higher respectively (the highest of the decade),
In the Aegean islands outside of Crete, it was 1.2 degrees Celsius higher (second highest after May 2018).
The main cause of the prolonged high temperatures in Greece was the prevalence of high barometric pressures in most of the Eastern Mediterranean, according to meteorologists.
This resulted in the flow of hot air masses from Africa to the Balkans.
Climate change is affecting Greece, adding more very hot days — and fewer very cold nights — in every year from now on, according to a study by the National Observatory of Athens, published in the International Journal of Climatology.
The study shows that in general the thermal bioclimate of the Mediterranean – not only of Greece – has undergone significant heating during the last 30 years.
A significant increase has been recorded in the number of “hot days” (days when one feels discomfort due to the heat), with an average rate of five extra days per decade. Greater growth trends occur in western and northern Greece.