First intense heat period of this Spanish summer coming up

by Lorraine Williamson
heatwave

MADRID – Summer has just officially started and many Spaniards are preparing to move to the coast. The school holidays in the country start on Friday. Moreover, that coincides with the arrival of possibly the first official heat wave this year. 

Eltiempo.es expects the mercury to rise to 44ºC in several places. That first heat also coincides with the celebration of San Juan. Meteorologist Mar Gómez notes that “we can expect a summer quite similar to last year in terms of temperatures”. 

More rain than in ‘normal’ summers 

However, there will be a variation in rainfall. More showers are expected this year than last year. That is due to “the arrival of several low-pressure areas and troughs that produce thunderstorms,” said Juan Jesús González Alemán, a meteorologist from the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet). 

While it’s too early to say for sure, experts warn that these storms could even bring hail. 

‘Scandinavian blockade’ 

The fact that there is a good chance it will rain more this summer has to do with a “blockade over Scandinavia”, according to González Alemán. This ‘Scandinavian blockage’ is an atmospheric phenomenon in which “the normal position of air masses in a region is reversed. The warm air is closer to the pole than the cold air,” Aemet said on its website. The powerful high-pressure area that is located above the Scandinavian area causes depressions to move further south in Europe. 

Sweltering and tropical nights 

The expected rainfall will increase the humidity and, in combination with the heat, cause a sweltering feeling. According to Samuel Biener, a meteorologist at Meteored, “This sweltering feeling will be created by sea breezes as temperatures rise in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.” 

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Mar Gómez warns that in addition to the sweltering, tropical nights that will also occur, “temperatures will continue to rise both during the day and at night”. Therefore, the thermometers could register temperatures of 20 °C at night in the Mediterranean, the centre and the south of the peninsula. 

Warm summer and the first heat wave? 

As for the high temperatures, the regions most affected by the heat will be, as always, “Andalucia and the south of Extremadura, where the average summer maximum temperatures vary between 35 °C and 37 °C, or even 39 °C and 40 °C when warm air comes in from the Sahara,” says Biener. 

With the start of summer, a high-pressure area is also coming to the peninsula, which will dissipate the thunderstorms (for now) and cause temperatures to rise again, Aemet reports. The weekend will be hot and the thermometers will rise above 40 degrees in many places in Spain. And could reach 44 degrees in cities such as Seville, Badajoz and Córdoba. 

Furthermore, the heat is expected to continue through the first days of next week. There will be some relief again from Thursday or Friday. However, apart from in the north, temperatures remain above normal values for the time of year in most of Spain. Consequently, it remains to be seen what the “thresholds of intensity, duration and size” will do if there will be a heatwave. 

Official heatwave? 

Specifically, according to Aemet, a “heatwave” is defined as “an episode of at least three consecutive days, in which at least 10% of weather stations record values above the threshold temperature. The threshold corresponds to the 95% percentile of its series of maximum daily temperatures for the months of July and August for the period 1971-2000». 

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