Spain sees winter heatwave amid warning of extreme summer

Lydia Patrick
Friday 26 January 2024 17:35 GMT
Related: 2023 Was the World’s Hottest Year on Record

Spain’s weather agency says abnormally high temperatures for the season are set to continue in many parts of the country over the weekend.

The hot spell has led to an almost summer-like feel in many coastal areas as people take to the beaches to sunbathe or have a winter swim.

Spain Hot Weather (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The country’s AEMET weather agency said the high temperatures affecting southern Europe are due to an anticyclone carrying a hot air mass from further south.

It said that the lack of cloud cover also led to increased temperatures.Just last week, Spain and other parts of Europe were hit by bitterly cold weather and rainstorms, which in turn followed freezing temperatures and snowfall in many parts of Spain.

This past week has seen many cities reach the highest temperatures for this time of the year for more than 20 years, said AEMET spokesman Marcelino Nuñez.

Spain Hot Weather (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

On Thursday, the interior eastern town of Chelva recorded a temperature of 29.6 degrees Celsius (85 Fahrenheit), he said.Minimum and maximum temperatures are averaging 5-10 degrees Celsius (9-18 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal, the agency says.

The weather has led to busy beaches from southwestern Cadíz to northeastern Barcelona, scenes normally associated with summer months.

Nuñez said it was not possible to put the current high temperatures down to the climate crisis without carrying out studies, but they follow a trend of increasingly more frequent periods of unusually high temperatures that experts are associating with climate change.

“What is clear is that climate estimates, long-term climate projections, from the past 20 years, have been saying that these phenomena are going to occur more and more, and we are seeing this little by little,” he said.

It comes as Spain recorded its hottest December yet in 2023 as a rush of hot air pushed the temperature up to 30C in the run up to Christmas.

Following a summer marked by four heatwaves – 2023 was the hottest year on record – southern Spain is now contending with more extreme weather, an event which meteorologists warn is made more likely by climate breakdown.

Spain Hot Weather (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Meteorologists warned that climate change was making these bouts of extreme heat more likely than extreme cold – rendering a repeat of Spain’s lowest ever temperature in a populated area of -30C less likely as its 60th anniversary approaches this year.

“Warm episodes are much more frequent and intense than cold ones,” said forecasters at Aemet.

“This has been especially evident in the last two years, when we have recorded a total of 77 records for warm days and 2 for cold days (the normal in two years would have been 10 records of each).”

The country also faced record-breaking Easter temperatures, in late April, a study found the Iberian heat wave was made 100 times more likely by human-caused climate change.

A group of international scientists did a rapid computer and statistical analysis of a late-April heat wave that stretched across the Iberian peninsula into Algeria and Morocco. The four countries experienced temperatures as high as 36.9 degrees Celsius (98.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) degrees.

Study lead author Sjoukje Philip of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute said in a briefing that a weather event this extreme “would have been almost impossible in the past, colder climate,” adding: “We will see more intense and more frequent heat waves in the future as global warming continues.”

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