The scorching weather affecting Spain will not go away until mid-July, experts are warning.
As the country entered its second back-to-back heatwave on Friday, the National Meteorological Agency (AEMET) said that even though Spanish summers are always hot, recently recorded temperatures are “atypical and significantly above the maximum average for these months of the year.”
“The heatwave is dangerous not just because of its absolute values, but because it is very prolonged,” said Cayetano Torres, AEMET’s delegate in the Madrid region.
Twenty-seven provinces were on alert on Friday for unusually hot weather.
What we are experiencing now is a cloud of African heat”
Cayetano Torres, AEMET delegate to the Madrid region
Last weekend, the Spanish capital registered temperatures of 41ºC. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, there was a slight letup of three to four degrees. But the AEMET’s forecast between now and mid-July is, as Torres says in a half-humorous, half-serious tone, that it’s going to be “so hot it’s scary, scary enough to get out of Madrid.”
Regional health authorities are keeping the alert level at the maximum “because the high forecast for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday is upwards of 38.5ºC,” says the health department on its website.
“Between today and Monday temperatures will gradually rise from 38ºC to 40 to 41ºC, and will stay that way until July 13,” said Torres, adding that climate change cannot be entirely blamed for the burning heat.
This time the cause is a body of hot air coming in from the African desert that is affecting Spain, France and Britain. “What we are experiencing now is a cloud of African heat,” said Torres.
He notes that maximum average temperatures for late June and early July are in the 30ºC range, whereas this year it is 40ºC.
But in downtown Madrid, it is going to feel even hotter than that.
“Pedestrians are subjected to as much as 50ºC even if the ambient temperature is 40ºC,” says Torres. “The pavement heats up above 40ºC, which combined with the car engines will turn downtown Madrid into an oven.”
Nights will bring little respite. Even if temperatures formally drop to as little as 24ºC, the heat is already trapped inside buildings, ensuring that the heatwave is “powerful and prolonged.”