Heatwave in Spain ‘worse than storm Filomena’

by Lorraine Williamson
Spain heatwave

MADRID – The heatwave currently affecting Spain, which could see mercury rise above 45ºC in much of the Spanish interior, could be “the most powerful” and “extensive” in areas affected. 

Aemet spokesman Cayetano Torres warns about the heatwave which is caused by the presence of an extensive and powerful Atlantic anticyclone. Its centre is near the British Isles and the anticyclone promotes atmospheric stability in the country. In other words: the heat lingers. 

Powerful and extensive heatwave

Torres predicts that this warm air mass could become a heatwave that could be “the most powerful” and “extensive” in the surface area experienced in July and August in Spain. 

The spokesperson explained in statements to Europa Press that the heatwave officially started on July 10. However, in principle, it should end on July 18. He added that extreme temperatures will also be recorded across Spain over the previous and following days. 

“It remains to be seen, but this could be the most powerful heatwave in Spain for July and even August. This is not only due to its intensity, but also the duration.  Temperatures could reach 44ºC for several days in a row. This is extreme and will trigger several red weather alerts (extreme danger to human health from this heat),” the spokesperson summed up. 

In addition to the current situation, a DANA (a high-level isolated depression) in the west of the peninsula continues to generate circulation from south to north. This creates subtropical conditions and a mass of very warm air of African origin at all levels of the atmosphere. This contributes to the temperatures rising even further. 

However, this DANA can somewhat destabilise the atmosphere above the peninsula. This could then bring some scattered storms with not too much precipitation. Therefore, the chance of dry thunderstorms is high. Furthermore, this makes the risk of forest fires extremely high. 

Wednesday will be the hottest 

Based on his models, Torres expects temperatures will continue to rise, especially in the areas where clouds are not developing. Moreover, the thermal peak of the heat wave will be reached on Thursday 14 July. “These are temperatures that are normal in Arizona (US),” he compares. 

Minimum temperatures also remain high. Especially on Tuesday evening when it stays up to 26 degrees Celsius in the southwestern quadrant of the peninsula. 

While the evolution of the Atlantean DANA is still uncertain, the AEMET admits that there is “great uncertainty” about when this episode will end. 

nederlandse orthopeed

Temperatures may start to drop in the centre and south of the peninsula from Friday, but this drop will be barely noticeable given the “extreme heat situation”. Torres predicts that the heat wave will last all weekend. “These are hellish days where we’re going to get more of them,” he says. 

Heatwave continues all weekend 

The heatwave will likely continue throughout the weekend. From Monday the 18th, the temperatures in the west of the peninsula will only drop again by, for example, 8 degrees in Galicia. However, elsewhere they remain on the high side. 

In short, it is striking that since July 7, Spain has been registering temperatures above 40ºC every day. Torres called last Monday’s striking readings in Candeleda (Ávila) 43.3ºC; Montoro (Córdoba), with 43.1ºC; Talavera de la Reina, 43ºC; Seville, 42.5ºC; Badajoz, 42.3ºC; Alcala de Henares (Madrid), 40.4ºC. 

Code red and extreme risk 

Even in the province of Ourense in Galicia, code red is given due to heat. This is something quite rare. The mercury can rise above 42 degrees there as a result of the southerly wind that causes a “very explosive temperature increase in this region. 

The climax of the heatwave is forecast for Thursday with temperatures above 45ºC. Especially in the valley of the Guadiana in Extremadura and the valley of the Guadalquivir in Seville. Furthermore, Torres expects that even 47 degrees can be tapped, or even more. 

Historic heatwave 

The absolute maximum temperature in Spain was reached on August 14 last year in La Rambla (Córdoba) where it was 47.6 degrees. Torres also referred to the July 1975 heat wave, when temperatures soared above 40ºC for four days. 

People must take preventive measures such as staying indoors or in the shade during the hottest hours and drinking plenty of fluids. 

“More dangerous to health than Filomena” 

“This is more dangerous for health than storm ‘Filomena’, very few people die from extreme cold. They can stay at home. But this heat can increase mortality, especially among older people. 

The spokesperson concluded, “It hurts that if the hot trend continues, July 2022, which already started with “spectacular” heat, could end as an extremely hot month”. 

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