Elderly people call it “eyyam-ı bahur” while younger generations know it is a time to search for a cooler place. This year’s dog days began right on time in Turkey, making their foray on Sunday. Almost every year, the hottest period of summer, usually between July 30 or 31 and Aug.7, takes over the country, with temperatures fluctuating above seasonal norms.

On Sunday, beaches in western cities were more crowded than usual as temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in some places. Eyyam-ı bahur (an Ottoman Turkish word given to the first week of August for the “very hot days”) brings the temperatures almost to a boiling point, with experts warning the public not to go out often during the day.

Temperatures were particularly overbearing in southern Turkey while people in risk groups, such as senior citizens and those with chronic illnesses, were warned to avoid being exposed to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to avoid developing heatstroke.

The period is also colloquially called the “African heat” in Turkey as the weather patterns of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula move to the country.

Not every city will see temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius but it is still predicted that big cities like the capital Ankara and Izmir will experience temperatures above 34 degrees Celsius while it will be around 32 degrees Celsius in Istanbul this week.

Lower humidity also heightens the risk of forest fires according to experts, as Turkey is already going through the “high season” for wildfires. On Friday, the anniversary of one of the biggest fires it has seen, the southwestern town of Marmaris was once again hit by a blaze threatening residential areas before it was contained in a short time. But the risk lingers elsewhere.

On Sunday, favorite vacation destinations Antalya and Muğla in the Mediterranean region hosted a large number of beachgoers. In Antalya, locals, foreigners and Turkish holidaymakers rushed to the beaches as temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius and the humidity rate reached 73%. Popular beaches like Konyaaltı and Lara brimmed with swimmers. In Muğla, where temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius and the sea temperature was 29 degrees Celsius, people basked in the sunlight and relatively cool waters. Others seeking relief from the heat climbed higher, to Babadağ, a famous spot for paragliders who go on aerial excursions of the scenic Mediterranean region.

Izmir, on the other hand, was calmer. There were few people on its famed Kordon coastal strip as temperatures hit 36 degrees Celsius in the Aegean province, the third largest in Turkey. Locals opted to stay indoors while tourists headed to promenades across the strip. Neighboring Aydın province’s notable vacation destination Didim, on the other hand, was overwhelmed with people on weekend excursions to beaches.

Even in Erzurum, an eastern province known for its extremely low temperatures that last into the spring, the dog days are being felt, driving locals in the landlocked region to parks or to seek shelter under the shade of any tree. “It has been a long time since it was this hot at this time of year,” 74-year-old Hacı Ali Çomaklı told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Saturday, pointing out that the temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius as he rested below a tree. “Most of time, we have a harsh winter for four months and then Erzurum is cool for the rest of year. We got used to it so this heat is no good for us,” he said. “It is unprecedented for Erzurum and it is getting hotter. We are going through scorching days,” Fahrettin Aydın, another local said. Erzurum will see temperatures steady at around 32 degrees Celsius this week according to Turkish State Meteorological Service (TSMS) forecasts.

Source : Daily Sabah