MADRID – Anyone who has just come out of the Northern European winter and is on holiday in Spain will be happy: this last week of April, meteorologists expect a heatwave in Spain with temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius. This extreme heat is not normal for the time of year.
The average temperature will be between 6 and 10 degrees above normal in most of Spain. The Spanish weather agency Aemet warns that it would be the most intense warm weather in April since data began to be recorded in 1961. Temperatures were still spring-like and normal over the weekend. But, the gradual arrival of a very warm and dry air mass of African origin over the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands will put an end to this and usher in a period of summer heat.
The rise, which started on Sunday, will last at least until Thursday. Ruben del Campo, spokesman for Aemet, speaks of a “very extreme and very unusual” heatwave for this time of year. The expected temperatures are more normal for the month of July with maximums reaching 40º and minimums above 20º.
How long will it last and what will be the peak?
Temperatures will rise as said from Sunday. In some places in the interior of the southeastern Spanish regions of Murcia and Valencia and the basin of the river Guadalquivir in the interior of Andalucia, temperatures above 30 degrees have already been measured. On Monday the rise will continue and it will reach 25º in large parts of the central, south and east of the peninsula.
The basins of the southern rivers Guadalquivir and Guadiana (Extremadura) will – as always – measure higher temperatures than the rest of the country. Here the 30º is quickly exceeded. From Wednesday, the heat will also reach the north of Spain. It will be over 30º there in the Ebro basin (from Cantabria to Catalonia) and in parts of southern Galicia. In many areas in the centre and south of Spain, it will be around 35º.
Thursday will be the hottest day
Thursday will be the hottest day. Even in northern Spain, the mercury could exceed 30º. It is getting warmer in Madrid and in Extremadura, the west of Castilla-La Mancha and a large part of Andalucia, the thermometers are moving towards 39º. Aemet expects the situation to continue until Friday when the tropical nights begin. Then the thermometers will not drop below 20º in Castilla-La Mancha and eastern Andalucia.
Temperatures are expected to ease on Saturday with possible isolated thunderstorms in the north of the country. Nevertheless, temperatures will still be above 30º in the north and the Balearic Islands, and above 35º in the south and the valley of the river Ebro (Catalonia). On Sunday, the highest temperatures are predicted on the Mediterranean coasts, with maxima of up to 35 degrees Celsius. However, inland, values will be lower. Then, from Monday, a drop in temperatures is expected.
Towards driest April in the historical series
The well-known Spanish expression “Abril aguas mil” (it rains a lot in April) seems to be a thing of the past. Not only will temperature records be broken this week, but the week ahead will also be very dry. So far, the driest April month is that of 1995, with 23 litres per square metre. “It is increasingly likely that we will not reach this amount by the end of the month,” Del Campo said. This also makes it increasingly likely that the month of April 2023 will end as the driest April month in the historical series since 1961. Until April 18, only five litres per square were collected.
Extreme heat means high risk of wildfires
Extreme heat not only affects health but can also have consequences for nature. For example, the risk of forest fires is higher than normal during this time of the year. The authorities have therefore called for caution and asked not to start a fire in the forest and to take the necessary measures to ensure fire safety.
Concerned olive farmers
The high temperatures that are expected create uncertainty in the olive sector. Farmers fear harvests could be cut in half as the heat coincides with a delicate moment for the olive trees. Last year, an early heat wave in May combined with drought resulted in a poor olive harvest. This year it was expected that the changing cultivation pattern would double the harvest, but now everything depends on the weather. The trees are already weakened by the drought. Some farms now only water for an hour and a half a day instead of the usual 12 hours.