Temperatures in Spain are rising to unprecedented levels for the time of year, with those living in and visiting the country already feeling hot under the collar. According to a spokesman for the Spanish Meteorological Agency, the country has experienced the hottest May in over 100 years, and the unusually hot temperatures are continuing into June. In fact, the country is currently experiencing ‘extreme temperatures’ that are due to last until at least the end of the week, with temperatures rising above 40 degrees, making it the second earliest recorded heatwave in the country’s history. Here’s everything you need to know about the current heatwave in Spain:
What Temperatures Can We Expect?
According to the Spanish Meteorological Agency, daytime temperatures in Spain will reach above 40 degrees Celsius (around 104 degrees Fahrenheit) in many locations across the city. Meanwhile, overnight temperatures will still remain uncomfortably high at between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius.
In order for authorities to declare a period of hot weather a heatwave, temperatures must exceed seasonal thresholds, leading a consistent period of unseasonably hot weather, for at least three days. That means that whilst there were periods of unseasonably hot weather in Spain last month (May 2022), it was not officially recorded as a heatwave because the weather did not consistently meet the three-day criteria outlined above.
Spain’s national weather agency records and monitors temperatures across the country. According to this organisation, the earliest recorded heatwave in Spain began on 11th June, 1981. As the current heatwave began on 12th June 2022, it is officially the second earliest recorded heatwave in Spain.
Are Other Countries Being Affected?
Spain isn’t the only country to be experiencing an early heatwave this year. Other European countries, particularly France, are also recording unprecedentedly high temperatures for the time of year. According to the French national weather service, the heatwave in the country has been particularly severe in southern regions, and that the drought currently being experienced across the country, which has had a hugely negative impact on farm harvests, would be worsened as a result. French weather forecaster Frederic Nathan said that temperatures would reach between 38 and 40 degrees Celsius in the country and that it was extremely early for such highs to be felt in France. In order to minimise the impact of this, 35 regions of the country has implemented water use restrictions. Those groups not impacted by these restrictions, such as factories and farmers, have been urged to be sensible and use water with restraint in order to avoid a depleted water table crisis in the country.
What is Causing These High Temperatures?
Extremely high temperatures are not unusual in Spain: in fact, this is the fourth official heatwave in just ten months. A new record high was set last August, when temperatures in Montoro hit 47.4 degrees Celsius. Temperatures over the Christmas period were also considered unusually hot for the time of year. These extreme temperatures are not ‘normal’ for Spain, but they could become part of a ‘new normal’. This is because many experts are attributing the extreme temperatures being experienced across Spain to global warming. That means that these temperatures are unlikely to be a one off, and that heat waves are likely to become more and more frequent in the country. A good example of this phenomenon is that summers in Spain now last one full month longer than they did during the 1980s. And average temperatures in the country have risen by 1.7 degrees since the pre-industrial era.
What Are the Consequences of Frequent Heatwaves?
Whilst there’s nothing nicer than feeling the heat of the sun, extremely high temperatures such as these can have a negative consequence on human health. The very young and the very elderly are particularly vulnerable to ill health as a result of extreme heat. There is also an environment impact to consider. Heat waves increase the risk that Spain will suffer from drought and water supply problems, as well as an increased risk of forest fires.
Global warming is definitely happening. The decade from 2011 to 2020 was the warmest on record, and the last six years the hottest ever registered. So, if you’re in Spain right now, be sure to stay safe in the sun and take plenty of opportunities to cool down.
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