Parts of Spain could see record-breaking heat this weekend as the country prepares for what could be the earliest summer heatwave on record, officials said this week.
Temperatures could soar between 104 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 42 degrees Celsius) in Southern parts of the country on Saturday, Spain’s meteorological agency, Aemet, said this week. Parts of Andalucía will see temperatures rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), while other coastal areas could see temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). Temperatures in much of the country are expected to cool off Sunday, although some areas in the east could see the hottest temperatures of the weekend then.
The intense heat, caused from dry and hot winds blowing from Africa, will almost certainly break records for May, with temperatures forecast to be anywhere from 18 to 27 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius) above this month’s averages.
“The last updates to the meteorological models confirm the extraordinary intensity of this heatwave,” Aemet spokesperson Rubén del Campo told The Guardian. “For Spain as a whole, it could be the most intense May heatwave of the past 20 years in terms of both the maximum and minimum temperatures.”
The government has issued extreme temperature warnings for the regions that will see the most extreme heat. Popular tourist areas, including Seville and Granada, will be affected, and tourists in the region have been advised to stay in the shade and keep hydrated. Officials have also warned of increased wildfire risk and decreased air quality, as hot air from the Sahara will also carry dust along with it.
“This will be an extreme episode and the risk that comes with the high temperatures will be important in many areas,” Del Campo said.
The past few years have seen an explosion of increasingly hot temperatures in Spain. Last August, Spain clocked its highest temperature on record: 117.3 degrees Fahrenheit (47.4 degrees Celsius), taken in the city of Montoro. (The previous record, 117.1 degrees Fahrenheit (47.3 degrees Celsius), was set only in 2017.) The stifling temperatures across most of the Mediterranean last summer that sparked wildfires in several countries also affected Spain, with fires forcing some coastal regions to evacuate. In June of 2019, Spain also saw devastating wildfires—the country’s largest in 20 years—as temperatures got so hot that a pile of manure self-combusted, causing a wildfire that ultimately burned 10,000 acres.
A report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year found that warming has made previously extreme heatwaves far more commonplace. Thanks to our addiction to fossil fuels, heatwaves that would have occurred once every 50 years now happen about once a decade.