Concerns about unusual heat in Spain and high sea temperatures

by Lorraine Williamson
high sea temperatures
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MADRID – The unusual heat well into autumn worries many experts for several reasons. With June temperatures through to the end of October, the sea temperatures in the Mediterranean are still abnormally high. 

After the periods of intense heat in May, June and July, the temperature of the Mediterranean Sea rose to 31 degrees Celsius in September. Now that October also shows values ​​that deviate from the normal weather picture, the sea has become a “water vapour factory”. So says Mario Picazo, a meteorologist at Etiempo.es. That caused a lot of “heat and hot flashes” during the summer. However, the worst is yet to come, according to this expert in the form of an increased risk of flooding and an impact on marine species. 

Greater chance of DANAs 

Picazo points out that when the air temperature drops, it’s common for weather phenomena like DANA or ‘gota fria’ to occur. These usually cause episodes of very intense rain. The warm sea water now increases the likelihood of the formation of “highly energetic” clouds that can amplify this phenomenon. 

“There are no squids, octopuses or sole” 

Another consequence of the high temperature of the Mediterranean Sea is that the fishing season is delayed: “There are no squids, octopuses or sole (lenguado)”. Less than a week before November starts, the water temperature, which broke its historic record this summer, should be around 18 degrees Celsius off the coast of Castellón. Now it is 24 degrees there at some points. 

This is good for tourism because all Northern Europeans who come here for their autumn holidays can enjoy pleasant beach days, but the high temperatures disrupt the usual fishing cycle and delay the season. “The fishermen are confused. In the depths where the fish are usually found, it is empty,” Jaime Federico, secretary of the Vinarós fishermen’s association told NIUS newspaper. 

Fishermen in the area have been warning about the lack of catches for weeks. “The water is very warm and everything is very quiet. The sole season is almost over and we still haven’t caught these fish,” says a newly docked fisherman after another bad day. 

Other species typical of that time still do not exist. “The octopus and squid are far from the shore, they hide in the deep sea in search of the cold,” explains the fisherman. 

Fewer catches and falling prices 

In addition, despite the few catches, the price of fish on the market has fallen. This is probably because consumers buy fewer fish because of the difficult situation of families due to inflation. Fishermen are also in a more difficult situation because of the sharp rise in diesel prices and a general increase in all costs. Only the shrimp, typical of this area of ​​the eastern Spanish coast, has not changed its behaviour. 

A new bubble of warm air hits Spain 

The intense heat continues in Spain with temperatures rising above 33°C in the south of the country. The minimum will not drop below 20°C, especially on the coast of Cantabria and the Mediterranean, with tropical nights continuing until next Sunday when temperatures are expected to begin to drop. 

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Heat circulations over Europe will occur more frequently 

This very unusual weather situation is also occurring elsewhere in Europe. According to Meteored, “a deep low-pressure synoptic configuration over the Atlantic Ocean, between the western British Isles and southern Iceland, drives very warm air from North Africa.” Furthermore, the “southern component winds at all levels allow the flow of that warm bubble to the Baltic and Scandinavia”. According to Meteored’s meteorologists, this situation is “not new this year” and “these circulations are becoming more frequent and intense so far this century.” 

In areas of southern Europe, especially in Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Malta, Crete and Cyprus, the heat has been even more noticeable in recent weeks than in Spain. In Corsica and Sardinia, thermometers constantly show values ​​above 30 degrees, in some places even 34 degrees. Just three days ago, on October 25, the map of Europe turned red with temperatures ranging between 10 and 15 degrees. 

Warmest October ever 

In Spain, the national weather institute AEMET has already warned that October 2022 could be the warmest as temperatures continue to hit record highs. At the start of the Puente de Todos Los Santos (the long weekend around All Souls’ Day), maximum temperatures rose to 32 degrees at some points. November starts with temperatures more typical of May or June. 

Forecasts for November 

November is normally one of the rainiest months in large parts of Spain. With a westerly wind with Atlantic fronts with rainfall moving across the country from west to east. Although there have been heavy showers with storms Armand and Beatrice, that drought has not alleviated where it is most distressing. 

According to Eltiempo’s reference model, higher temperatures compared to the average of the data are expected in November in almost all Spanish regions (this is nothing new this year). This is especially applicable to the first two weeks of the month. Temperatures can reach 2ºC higher than normal in the interior, the eastern half and the Balearic Islands. To the northwest, points in Catalonia and the Canary Islands would be around the usual values, or slightly above what would be usual. 

So far, Eltiempo.es maps indicate that temperatures will normalize in the last half of the month. Especially with normal temperatures in the middle and north of the peninsula. In the south and the Balearic Islands, they will be up to 1ºC higher than the average. 

However, it seems that we can expect more rainfall in the second part of November, especially in the northwest in larger amounts than normal. In the rest of the country, the models indicate more common precipitation for that time of year. 

If the high-pressure areas move to Central Europe and the North Atlantic, some Mediterranean regions may receive more rain than usual. In the west, it will be quite dry again in the second half of November. That would be bad news for the major rivers on the peninsula as the drought would worsen. No significant deviations are currently observed in the Canary Islands. 

Also read: Galician fishermen sound the alarm

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