What will Storm Patricia do in Spain and where?

by Lorraine Williamson
Storm Patricia

MADRID – Spain and France are preparing for an unprecedented drop in temperatures in August. According to the Spanish Weather Service, Aemet, temperatures could drop by as much as 15ºC in some places. The cause is a storm called Patricia. 

This comes after the month of July entered the books as the hottest month since climate records began. The most significant temperature drops caused by the storm are expected on Thursday and Friday. 

What will Patricia do in Spain? 

Patricia is not just any storm. Her appearance in August is very unusual. However, Patricia will not directly affect Spain. Although satellite images show an associated front that will bring some rain and gusts to the far north of the peninsula and could cause waves as high as 4 or 5 metres in the Cantabrian Sea, Patricia is far from Spanish territory. 

The storm does, however, have an indirect effect. What makes her particularly special is her intensity. Patricia’s interaction with the high-pressure area over the Azores creates a channel of cold winds from the northwest, which will lead to remarkable temperature drops in the northern third of the Iberian Peninsula. 

In certain regions of Spain, temperatures could drop to as low as 20ºC, which is 10 to 15 degrees lower than normal for this time of year. Many people will be happy with this after the period of heat. 

A brief respite from the heat 

Spain will enjoy a short but welcome respite from the summer heat. However, this cooling-off period is expected to last only about three days. Temperatures will experience a notable drop in the north of the peninsula and also in parts of the Mediterranean due to the cold winds. 

An extraordinary drop, by more than 10 degrees Celsius (ºC) compared to the previous day, could occur in the Basque Country, Navarra, La Rioja, Aragon and parts of eastern Catalonia. Here the mercury drops from about 33ºC to no more than 22ºC. Even Zaragoza, which expects to exceed 40ºC on Wednesday, will only reach 29ºC on Thursday. 

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No effect in Andalucia 

In Andalucia, the impact of the depression will not be very noticeable, as the intense heat will continue to dominate the day in the southern third on Thursday, with cities such as Córdoba, Seville, Murcia or Málaga reaching temperatures of 38 to 40ºC. However, once Patricia has passed, temperatures could rise again, possibly even higher than before her arrival. 

Patricia’s intensity and the time of her appearance in August make her special. Moreover, this could be a sign that climate patterns are changing as global temperatures continue to rise. 

Why does the storm have a name? 

Naming storms and other major weather events helps to communicate clearly and effectively about extreme weather events. This makes it easier for the public to take the necessary precautions. 

In Europe, storm naming is done through a collaboration of several national weather services. Aemet, along with the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), began collectively naming storms affecting the Iberian Peninsula in 2017. 

A storm is named when it is predicted to reach a certain intensity that can have a significant impact. Patricia is the first August storm ever to be named. And, furthermore, the 2022-2023 season already holds the record for most named storms with a total of 16. 

Also read: Weather change expected in Spain 

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