PARIS (AP) – How hot is it? So hot that there was an ice cream shortage in Sweden. So hot that Polish lawmakers held a special Mass to pray for rain.

Europe, from north to south, east to west, has sizzled through July with power outages and scores of deaths. The heat wave even brought a sinister reminder of the past, with officials in eastern Germany warning that World War II munitions might surface as river levels dropped.

In Ireland, where the average temperature in July is normally 59 degrees, the temperature soared to 88 on July 19 – the hottest day since August 1995.

“It’s amazing how quickly we’ve got used to it. We seem to think we’re Mediterranean now,” said Brendan O’Connor, a newspaper and TV satirist. “There’s even a danger that we’ll start drinking sensibly.”

Elsewhere, records also were being set. Germany, like Britain, has experienced the hottest July on record.

In France, officials were frantic to avoid a repeat of the summer of 2003, when 15,000 people – most of them elderly – died of heat-related causes.

This year, medical students were recruited to help doctors, advice was broadcast day and night on radio and television with reminders to drink water and stay indoors. A media campaign to boost neighborliness, and ensure no elderly are forgotten, went into full swing.

Even the Eiffel Tower was not left out. Four giant misters were installed at its base to douse overheated tourists.

Still, French health authorities reported 64 deaths by Thursday.

Throughout July, temperatures cruised in the high 90s to over 100 in Europe – high for a continent where air conditioning is generally the exception. But as anyone taking public transport knows, it was hotter than that.

In Britain, road surfaces melted, and the Evening Standard newspaper measured temperatures on the Underground at a stifling 117 degrees.

Necessity is the mother of invention. While the young, and less young, romped in fountains in Rome and Paris, those obliged to take subways in London or Paris used fans – hand-held or battery operated – to try to stay cool.

The heat has wreaked havoc with electricity supplies. More than 1,000 businesses in London’s major shopping district were left without power Thursday, with the electric grid overwhelmed by demand.

A state-own power operator in the Czech Republic halted energy exports to neighboring countries and forced major industrial consumers to cut electricity use for several hours Tuesday. And in Germany, some nuclear power stations were hobbled because the river water they use for cooling was too warm.

“It’s been rough,” Owen Gallagher, 49, a British construction project worker. “You feel it at the end of a shift. It just drains you.”

The heat wave penalized farmers, too, from potato growers in the Netherlands to wheat farmers in Germany. And milk production in Italy dropped 20 percent.

Governments scrambled to respond to heat-related ailments.

In Romania, where at least 12 people have died, doctors in the city of Craiova set up sidewalk tents to check pedestrians’ blood pressure and offer refreshments.

In Poland, lawmakers held a Mass in the parliamentary chapel last week to pray for rain to break the baking heat.

Their prayers may have been answered.

Storms were moving across Europe with the skies opening up Friday in Ireland and storms predicted over the weekend in France and other places.

Some may not be happy if the heat ends.

German breweries and beer gardens did a roaring business in July. In Sweden, ice-cream maker Hemglass had trouble keeping up with the demand, with nearly three-quarters of flavors sold out in some parts of the country. Romania’s Black Sea resorts were operating at near capacity, with over 100,000 tourists.

The Irish satirist found fun in the heat.

Since no one in Ireland uses sunblock, no matter what the weather, O’Connor said, “There are big tomato heads everywhere. And everybody is saying to each other, ‘Were you away?”‘

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