CNN  — 

Authorities in Italy say the island of Sicily may have set an all-time heat record for Europe, hitting a temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

The city of Siracusa hit the blistering record on Wednesday afternoon, as an anticyclone – which Italian media reports are referring to as “Lucifer” – swept in and continues to moves north up the country. A persistent heat wave around the Mediterranean in Europe and North Africa has contributed to some of the worst fires seen there in years.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe was 48.0°C (118°F) in Athens, Greece in 1977, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The record in Italy was confirmed by Sicilian authorities, but needs to be officially verified by the WMO.

“At the moment there are no reasons to invalidate it, but if possible we will make an ex-post evaluation on the accuracy of the measure” said the Sicilian Agrometeorological Information Service, Sicily’s official weather station operator.

An anticyclone is a high-pressure system, where atmospheric pressure is relatively higher than the air surrounding it.