An ‘abnormal’ heatwave suffocates Spain before reaching France

MADRID | Peaking in excess of 40 degrees, a heatwave smothered Spain on Monday before reaching France on Tuesday, an “abnormal” episode for the period caused by global warming.

This episode, coming days after the hottest May in Spain for at least 100 years, is leading to “extreme temperatures,” Weather Agency spokesman Ruben del Campo told AFP.Spanish (Aemet).

Caused by a localized low between the Azores and Madeira, which is gradually bringing very hot air from the Maghreb to western Europe, it started this weekend and “could continue into the end of the week,” he added.

“This extreme heat at this time of spring is not normal” and is due to “global warming,” Mr. Del Campo said.

According to Aemet, temperatures will exceed 40 degrees in the center and south of the country and could even rise to 43 degrees in Andalusia (south), particularly in Cordoba or Seville.

And the mercury will not drop below 20 or 25 degrees at night in these parts of Spain.

The “earliest” in France

According to scientists, the increase in heat waves, particularly in Europe, is a result of global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions increase their power, duration and frequency.

In the last decade, Spain has experienced four episodes of extreme temperatures: a heatwave in August 2021, when the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the country was broken (47.4 degrees in Montoro in the south), “unusually high” temperatures between Christmas and New Year, an early rise in May and the current rise.

In France, that hot air will arrive on Tuesday from the south-west of the country, where temperatures could reach 35-36C, before spreading across the entire southern half and then north on Wednesday.

For the southern half, “the big heat peak will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with 35 to 38C”, locally even 40C, explained Frédéric Nathan, meteorologist at Météo-France, to AFP.

This episode could be “a priori, at national level, the earliest since the beginning of the measures”, he specified.

Restrictions on water use have already been introduced in 35 French departments, almost a third of the country.

fire alarm

This heatwave comes after a particularly hot and dry spring that caused drought across much of France, fueling concerns about crops and creating conditions conducive to fires.

In Portugal, this heat wave, which started on Friday and is also expected to last until the end of the week, has brought temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees, which can reach 40 degrees in some areas, according to the National Meteorological Institute.

With the country recording its hottest May since 1931 and nearly its entire territory suffering from “severe drought,” the risk of wildfires is highest.

The same scenario in Spain, where according to Aemet the risk of fire is “extreme” in most of the territory.

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