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World

Spain logs ‘hottest spring on record’

Published June 7, 2023
A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. File Photo: AFP
A woman using a fan to cool-off walks past a man lying in the shade in Seville on April 26, 2023 as Spain is bracing for an early heat wave. File Photo: AFP

MADRID: Spain has experienced its hottest spring in over 60 years of recordkeeping, with average temperatures almost two degrees Celsius above average, the national weather agency reported Wednesday.

The country also saw its second driest-ever spring on record, behind that of 1995, the AEMET agency said as a prolonged drought hits its key agricultural sector.

Spain, which had its hottest year on record in 2022, is expected to be one of the worst-hit EU countries in terms of climate change.

AEMET reported the average temperature was “14.2 degrees Celsius (57.5 degrees Fahrenheit), which was 1.8 C hotter” than normal.

That is “extremely hot, exceeding 1997 – the hottest spring up to now – by 0.3 C,” it noted.

“The spring of 2023 was the hottest spring on record in Spain,” AEMET reported, referring to a three-month period that began in March.

Shanghai records hottest May day in 100 years

In late April, Spain suffered a major heatwave with local temperatures up to 20 C above average, exacerbating the drought.

May began with temperatures slightly higher than average which then dropped below the average in the second half of the month with heavy rainfall that has helped somewhat but not alleviated the drought.

“Until almost mid-May, there was no rain,” said AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo.

“With the rains in the second half of May, the situation has eased a little.”

However, the drought, “which is measured over the longer term, has not been resolved,” he said.

How long it would continue would depend on the levels of rainfall later in the year, he said.

“In this hydrological year so far, we’ve seen a 20 percent shortage in rainfall so for that to be resolved, it would need to rain 20 percent more (than usual) in autumn,” he said.

Hot and hotter

In recent years, Spain has experienced more heatwaves and increasingly scarce and irregular rainfall.

Last year, AEMET forecasters recorded “35 days of record-breaking heat, when temperatures were above the seasonal average”, del Campo said.

“That’s one record every 10 days.”

Spain recorded its driest start of the year since such records began in 1961, with the country receiving less than half the normal amount of rain during the first four months of 2023, AEMET said last month.

Experts say parts of Spain are their driest in 1,000 years, with the ongoing drought prompting some farmers to choose not to sow crops this year.

The lack of rainfall has been catastrophic for the agriculture sector in Spain, which is the world’s biggest exporters of olive oil and the European Union’s biggest producer of fruit and vegetables.

Spain’s reservoirs, which store rainwater for use in drier months, remain at just under 50 percent of their capacity, well below the 10-year average of around 68 percent.

April’s intense heat – which engulfed the Iberian peninsula and parts of North Africa – pushed temperatures to record highs, with the mercury hitting 38.8 C in southern Spain.

The World Weather Attribution (WWA), whose scientists study the link between extreme weather events and climate change, called the April heatwave “exceptional”.

Looking ahead, AEMET said all indications suggested that summer 2023 would also be hotter than normal.

“There is a high probability of a hotter-than-normal summer in the whole country,” it warned, although del Campo said it was “unlikely” to beat the heat of summer 2022.

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