Heatwave in Spain results in 360 deaths in five days

by Lorraine Williamson
heatwave deaths

MADRID – The Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII) has already recorded 360 deaths attributed to high temperatures during the first days of the heatwave that has swept Spain. Friday 15 July marked a peak with 123 deaths in one day.  

On the first day of the heatwave, Sunday 10 July, there were 15 deaths due to the high temperature. This is according to figures from ISCIII, which falls under the Spanish Ministry of Health. That number continued to increase thereafter. And the following day, Monday 11 July, 28 deaths due to excessively high temperatures were recorded. Tuesday saw 41 deaths, Wednesday 60. Thursday 14 July, together with Friday, was one of the worst days of the heat wave. In some municipalities values of almost 44 or 45ºC were recorded, such as in the Tagus, Guadiana and Guadalquivir valleys; 42ºC in the Miño valley and 41ºC in the Ebro valley and central area.  On Thursday, 93 people died from the heat, a figure that rose to 123 on Friday 15 July.  

Code orange 

For this weekend, the heat wave alarm is maintained, in accordance with the forecasts of weather service Aemet. For Saturday there were still warnings for extreme risk in northern Spain. On Sunday, no areas are expected to have a red warning. However, the heatwave will continue to affect almost the entire peninsula and the Balearic Islands.  

What can you do against the heat? 

  • limit exposure to the sun
  • stay in well-ventilated places
  • eat light and regular meals rich in water and mineral salts, such as fruits and vegetables
  • drink water or liquids often
  • wear light-coloured clothes
  • cover skin and head as much as possible
  • avoid prolonged exercise in the central hours of the day
  • take care of the elderly and sick, and those who live alone or in isolation 

How long will the heatwave last?  

The period of extreme temperatures was caused by an anticyclone near Ireland and an isolated high-level depression (DANA) west of the peninsula, which is bringing a mass of ‘very dry’ African air to the peninsula. According to the latest updates from Aemet, the heat wave could be over by Monday as the arrival of cool Atlantic air intensifies and prolongs the temperature drops’. This thermal relief will be felt in ‘large parts of the peninsula’ from Tuesday 19, Aemet continued. ‘Temperatures will still be abnormally high, but not as high as in recent days’, it said, confirming that ‘Monday 18 will be the last day of the heat wave episode’.  

Temperature expected to rise again after Wednesday 

On Wednesday, with the departure of DANA, the Aemet warns that ‘it is likely’ that temperatures will rise again, ‘but especially in the south-western part of the peninsula’. 

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Record temperatures  

Although the heat wave lasted longer than usual, it is not the longest in history. In 2015 there was a heat wave that lasted 26 days. However, many record temperatures have now been recorded in both maximum and minimum temperatures.  

Last Tuesday, Ourense reached a maximum temperature of 43.3 ºC – a temperature not seen in this province since 1990 – while in Soria the temperature reached 38.7 ºC, the highest since 1951. In Zamora, on the other hand, the maximum temperature reached 41ºC, the highest since 1995.  

Records have also been broken in terms of minimum temperatures, which reach abnormally high levels: in Rota (Cadiz) this week the minimum temperature reached 28.2ºC, while in Pontevedra the highest minimum temperature was 24.9ºC. For the time being, the historical maximum measured at national level, 47.6 ºC in the municipality of La Rambla in Córdoba in August last year, has not yet been exceeded.

Also read: Number of deaths in Spain due to heat in first 6 months of 2022

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