Spain to Bake in Summer-Like Heat as Europe Braces for Hot Spring

Parts of Spain are forecast to hit 40C, with the year’s first heat wave arriving a month earlier than in 2022.

(Bloomberg) — Spring in Spain will resemble the middle of the summer this week as thermometers rise above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and some regions are forecast to hit 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

A mass of exceptionally hot air moving northward from Africa will cause temperatures to start rising in the Iberian Peninsula on April 25 and 26, with the episode peaking on April 27 and 28, Spain’s meteorological agency Aemet said on Sunday. The high temperatures, together with low humidity and winds of over 30 kilometers per hour (18.6 miles per hour) will put most of the country under high risk of wildfires, the agency said. 

Western Europe has experienced an unusually hot and dry winter and these conditions are likely to continue into the spring and summer months, according to two different reports by Europe’s Earth observation agency Copernicus. This week’s heat episode means Spain is likely to hit 40C for the first time this year almost a month earlier than in 2022, which saw its first heat wave at the end of May, also a historically early date.

Man-made climate change is exacerbating heat and drought conditions across the world, according to scientific research. Last year, Europe experienced its driest summer in about 500 years, while other areas in the Northern Hemisphere, from the US to China, also experienced unusual drought. These conditions were all made more likely by the warming of the planet, according to World Weather Attribution, a network of scientists that study how climate change influences extreme weather events.

Spain had the second warmest and driest March on record, according to the US National Centers for Environmental Information. The global average surface temperature was also the second highest for March since records began in 1850. 

Parts of Spain are already restricting water use for the agriculture and industrial sectors, as well as for irrigating public gardens or refilling swimming pools. The region of Madrid will open public swimming pools on May 13, a month earlier than usual, President Isabel Díaz Ayuso said at an event on Monday. The regional government wants to give schools the possibility to adapt to extreme heat by changing schedules and do classes outside under the shade when no cooling options are available inside. 

Elsewhere, temperatures will rise above 40C in parts of Western and Central Africa this week, according to forecasters. In India, regions on the country’s east reached 40C to 44C last week, with demand for electricity to power cooling devices jumping to an all-time high.

–With assistance from Ainhoa Goyeneche and Brian K Sullivan.

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