Spain receives first heat wave warning of 2018

National weather service warns of highs of up to 40ºC from Wednesday to at least Sunday

A family plays in a water fountain in Barcelona.
A family plays in a water fountain in Barcelona.Albert Garcia

August is around the corner, and with it the first heat wave in a Spanish summer that is turning out to be cooler than other years.

The national meteorology service Aemet has issued a heat warning beginning on Wednesday, with highs above 36ºC in much of the country, going up to 40ºC in the southern portion of the peninsula.

Experts note that hot weather is not the same as a heat wave. For the latter to be declared, a series of conditions have to be met that vary with each country. In Spain, these conditions are “extreme temperatures that fall within the 5% hottest range on record for July and August, that affect at least 10% of weather stations in the country, and that last at least three days,” according to Aemet meteorologist Rubén del Campo.

An updated 'film roll' of temperatures for the coming days. The models underscore that a heat wave is very likely to start on Wednesday or Thursday. Besides the highs, we are keeping an eye on the lows, which will also be very high.

“Will there be a heat wave during the second half of next week? Probably so, although it is still early to know,” said Del Campo in a video posted on Aemet’s Twitter account.

The heat will not let up very much at night, when lows are expected to remain at 20ºC or above.

If the forecast is right, the heat wave will last until Sunday

If the forecast is right, the heat wave will begin in the southwest of the peninsula and extend throughout the rest of the territory until Sunday at least.

The regions worst hit by the heat will be Extremadura, Castilla La-Mancha, Andalusia, Madrid, the Levante area, the Ebro Valley and the Balearic Islands, Del Campo told the EFE news agency. Only the Canary Islands and parts of northern Spain are expected to be spared.

The weather event is caused by a mass of hot air coming in from Africa, combined with a lack of wind currents to disperse it.

Aemet records going back to 1975 show that there have only been 10 summers in Spain without a single heat wave, the last one in 2014. Last year set a new record with as many as five heat waves. The longest one, however, took place in 2015 and lasted 26 days.

English version by Susana Urra.

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