Spain swelters in extreme December heat as temperatures soar to record of nearly 30C

Spain witnesses three days of record-breaking December heat after summer of heatwaves

Andy Gregory
Wednesday 13 December 2023 20:31 GMT
Related video: 2023 Set To Be The Hottest Year In Recorded History
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Spain has recorded its highest ever December temperature, as a mass of hot air pushed the mercury to just shy of 30C in the run-up to Christmas.

Following a summer marked by four heatwaves – in what has been 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.

Mountains typically laden with a metre of snow remain eerily “green and lush”, warned visitors at a ski resort whose early season has been confounded by the heat, as temperature records were broken by nearly 5C in some areas.

Tourists were treated to unusually warn weather in Malaga on Tuesday
Tourists were treated to unusually warn weather in Malaga on Tuesday (REUTERS/Jon Nazca)

The three days to Tuesday were the hottest 10, 11 and 12 December that Spain has ever recorded, as temperatures hit 29.9C in Malaga and north of 27C in Valencia.

“It’s one of the warmest masses of air to have ever overflown Spain at this point in December,” said Ruben del Campo, a spokesperson for the national weather agency Aemet.

Mr Del Campo said the heat, coupled with predictions of sparse rainfall until the end of February, heralded a “not very good” season for winter sports dependent on abundant snow – which once melted is also a crucial water resource for the spring and summer months.

The exceptional warmth is likely to end after Wednesday, when Aemet forecasts that cooler air from higher latitudes will bring temperatures down to more normal values for December.

At the popular ski resort of Navacerrada, outside Madrid, visitors expressed concern over the lack of snow.

Navacerrada resort is typically laden with snow at this time of the year
Navacerrada resort is typically laden with snow at this time of the year (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“It’s a terrifying feeling because this should really be covered in snow or frozen over, but instead it’s green and lush for this time of the year,” Tania, a 32-year-old marine biologist who only gave her first name, told Reuters.

Vicente Solsona, a 66-year-old retired university professor from eastern Castellon province, said that Navacerrada should have at least one metre of snow on such a date. “We’re calmly destroying everything,” he added. “The problem is that there’s no going back.”

Meterologists 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).

“Climate change, unequivocally caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a consequence of human activities, makes high temperature records much more likely than cold ones; although these do not disappear either.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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