Spain braces for heatwave with 10 provinces on alert for high temperatures

The thermometer is forecast to rise to above 40ºC on Friday and Saturday, and could exceed 44ºC in the southern region of Andalusia

A woman fans herself in Seville in Andalusia.
A woman fans herself in Seville in Andalusia.Raúl Caro (EFE)

Ten Spanish provinces in six regions are on alert for high temperatures, Spain’s national weather agency Aemet reported on Tuesday. The warning comes ahead of a heatwave that is forecast to hit most of the country on Wednesday, and last between five and six days.

Aemet spokesperson Rubén del Campo warned on Wednesday that the high temperatures expected in the coming days are “not normal, we are talking about an intense and lasting heat.” He added: “We can’t rule out that a temperature record will be broken.” According to the forecasts, temperatures from Thursday could reach between 44 degrees Celsius and 45ºC in the southern half of the country, in particular Guadalquivir valley.

The heatwave will affect the whole of Spain, except the northern region of Cantabria and part of Galicia. Friday and Saturday will likely be the hottest days, with the thermometers set to rise to above 40ºC in the south, east and center of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands. Meanwhile, in the southern region of Andalusia, maximum temperatures are expected to exceed 44ºC. Nights will also be hot, with temperatures of 24ºC and 25ºC. The heat is forecast to ease on Sunday, with temperatures set to become significantly cooler on Monday.

In order for a heatwave to be declared, it needs to meet three requisites: extreme temperatures up to 5% higher than the maximum temperatures, affecting 10% of weather monitoring stations in the country, and which last at least three days. While Spain recorded very high temperatures in July, the conditions did not meet these thresholds.

Del Campo explained that the heatwave – the first forecast of the summer – is the result of a barometric ridge (an elongated area of high atmospheric pressure compared to the surrounding area) that is approaching the north of Africa and the central Mediterranean. The proximity of this ridge will lead a mass of very hot air to settle over Spain. An air mass from Africa, carrying dust from the Sahara, is also set to worsen air quality.

On Tuesday, on the eve of the heatwave, Aemet issued orange alerts – the second-highest level of the scale – for 10 Spanish provinces. They are Córdoba, Granada and Jaén in Andalusia; Huesca and Zaragoza in Aragón; Mallorca in the Balearic Islands; Toledo, Albacete and Cuenca in Castilla-La Mancha; Lleida in Catalonia; and in Madrid, Alcalá de Henares, the region’s metropolitan area, as well as the south, west and Vegas area.

The heatwave will affect the whole of Spain, except the northern region of Cantabria and part of Galicia

Temperatures on Tuesday will reach of exceed 35ºC in the cities of Albacete, Badajoz, Cáceres, Ciudad Real, Córdoba, Cuenca, Granada, Guadalajara, Jaén, Madrid, Murcia, Palma, Pamplona, Seville, Toledo, Zamora and Zaragoza.

The sky will be mainly clear at the beginning of Tuesday in most of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands, except for some cloudy intervals in Galicia and Cantabria, with the possibility of light rain in the region of the Strait of Gibraltar and the exclave city of Melilla in North Africa.

Intervals of predominantly medium or high cloud will increase during the day in the eastern half of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands, with the possibility of some showers or thunderstorms, generally weak and isolated and confined primarily to inland mountainous areas. In the Canary Islands, there will be cloudy intervals, without ruling out some drizzle in islands with greater relief.

Aemet also warned of the possibility of morning fog in Galicia and Cantabria, the Strait of Gibraltar and Alborán, and haze in the southeastern half of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

Winds will blow from the north on the coast of Galicia and the Canary Islands, and from the east in the southern half of the Mediterranean area and the Balearic Islands, with moderate Levante winds in the Strait of Gibraltar.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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