Terral wind lashes Costa del Sol coastal towns with heat from Monday

by Lorraine Williamson
Terral wind

MÁLAGA – The two heat waves in Spain this year have skipped the coastal towns of the province of Málaga. It is for this reason that many Spaniards from the interior come to the Costa del Sol every summer for some refreshment. It is often fine to keep out there by the sea. However, the arrival of the Terral wind could change that.

From Monday it will change with the arrival of the first strong Terral wind. That’s what offshore wind is called in southern Spain. This wind brings hot air from the already warmed interior to the coast. That drives the mercury in the thermometers to above 40º Celsius. 

The Spanish weather institute AEMET predicts the following temperatures: In municipalities such as Coín 45ºC, Pizarra (44), Alhaurín el Grande (43), Cártama (43), Álora (43), Alhaurín de la Torre (42), Antequera (42), Manilva (41), Estepona (41), Ronda (40), Mijas, Benalmadena or Torremolinos (40). In Malaga city, AEMET expects temperatures of 39 degrees. Even when the sun is gone, people will not experience much relief with minimum temperatures around 24 degrees. 

Code red on Sunday in the provinces of Cádiz and Córdoba 

Before the Terral arrives Aemet warns of extreme heat in the interior of the provinces of Cádiz and Córdoba with code red (extreme risk). On Monday, code red applies to the coastal zone of the province of Huelva. Despite the terral wind, no warning has been given for the southern Spanish coast. 

What is Terral Wind? 

The AEMET glossary says that terral is the wind that blows from the land to the sea when the Earth’s surface cools faster than the sea surface maintains its temperature better. A thermal and pressure gradient is created that is the reverse of the normal situation where the warmer air rises from the sea and is replaced by the colder air from the land. 

nederlandse orthopeed

It is popular wisdom in Málaga that the terral in Malaga lasts 1, 3 or 5 days. Therefore, it is hoped that it will remain at one day. However, this statement has no scientific basis. Furthermore, it is an expression used in other parts of Spain for other meteorological phenomena, such as the Levante wind. 

According to Fausto Polvorinos, spokesperson for AEMET in Andalucia, Terral is an uncommon wind that usually does not last long. It has also been calculated that the temperature rises one degree for every 100 metres that the wind descends over the land between Antequera and Málaga. “By coming from the land and not from the sea, the wind warms up, at least in the summer. However, many people still believe that the terral is an African wind. Polvorinos: “The name ‘Terral’ says it all, the wind comes from the interior, from the earth.” Earth is ‘tierra’ in Spanish and terral is derived from it. 

Warm wind, cool sea 

The positive effect in Málaga is the terral cools the surface water in the sea and swimming pools. Even to such an extent that the sea in Málaga is sometimes a few degrees colder in summer than the sea in Cantabria in northern Spain. In addition, along the southern Spanish coast, water from the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, the water is already cooler than in the rest of the Mediterranean. 

When a terral wind blows, it pushes the warm surface water further into the sea. This then allows cold water from the depths to rise to the surface. So if you have been warmed up by the high temperatures that the terral bring, the sea will certainly cool you down. 

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