Spain faces an "intense and early" heat wave

The situation in Spain is worrying

Spain faces an "intense and early" heat wave

The situation in Spain is worrying. The country, on the front line of global warming in Europe, has been experiencing an exceptionally early heat wave for the past few days. "It is very likely that the peak of this episode will be reached on Thursday and Friday," said Aemet, the Spanish weather agency, which referred to "maximums closer to those of early July and generalized records for a month of april ".

In Cordoba, in the south, the thermometer rose to 38.7 ° C around 3 p.m. In the province of Seville, where umbrellas and fans were already out, it was up to 37.8°C, according to readings from Aemet, which revised its forecasts slightly downwards after mentioning 40°C at the start of the week.

But not enough to reassure employees who are on the front line. "It's extremely hot, we're looking for shade and water all the time," said Juan Benito, a 33-year-old waiter in the Andalusian capital.

"By its intensity and its early nature", the episode observed since Monday "falls within the framework of the consequences of climate change", underlined Ruben Del Campo, spokesperson for Aemet, for whom "it is possible that 'April 2023 […] will be one of the two warmest Aprils' since records exist.

The Madrid region has already announced on Wednesday the activation of its plan, which notably provides for the possibility of adapting school timetables, which is usually done from June.

These exceptionally high temperatures have become more common in Spain in recent years. Nearly 75% of its territory is classified as at risk of desertification, according to the UN. Last year, the country had already experienced its hottest year on record, with several heat waves starting in May, according to Aemet.

According to a study by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, published on Tuesday, the number of days of the year marked by summer temperatures increased in Spain from 90 to 145 between 1971 and 2022. During this period, episodes of heat waves daytime temperatures have increased sevenfold and nighttime temperatures by almost 11, while the temperature has increased by an average of 3.54°C in the main Spanish cities.

Beyond the temperatures, Spain, which exports a large part of its agricultural production to the rest of Europe, is facing a catastrophic drought which is worrying farmers and the authorities. According to Coag, the main farmers' union, 60% of Spanish farmland is currently "suffocated" by the lack of rainfall.

Dry soils and very high temperatures constitute an explosive cocktail which increases the risk of fires. Most of the territory was therefore placed on Thursday on alert for "very high" or "extreme" risk of fires by the Aemet, while the Ministry of the Interior convened an exceptional coordination meeting with the regions. on this subject on Friday.

Neighboring Portugal is also affected by this early heat wave. Temperatures, which are "10 to 15°C above normal", could reach 37°C there on Thursday after a maximum of 35.4°C was reached on Wednesday in the south of the country, according to the meteorological institute. national.