May 40th: Why an old Spanish weather saying rings true this week

There’s a well-known expression in Spain that you might hear being used these days as Spain prepares for some stormy weather.

May 40th: Why an old Spanish weather saying rings true this week
Photo: wollwerth/Depositphotos

Hasta el cuarenta de mayo no te quites el sayo.

If translated literally into English, this Spanish saying means “until May 40th, don’t take off your tunic”.

May 40th doesn’t correspond to an actual date in the Spanish calendar and it’s not as if many Spaniards wear tunics anymore either..

The expression – which first appeared in a poem by Rodriguez Marón dating from 1896 – is used when the weather during the first ten days of June takes a turn for the worse, even though the summer heat has technically already started.

In other words – don’t be so quick to pack away your winter and spring clothes until you are sure summer is well and truly here.

And this week this expression rings true once again.

Spain has seen the mercury rise above 30C in large parts of the mainland and even hit 40C in some places in the southern Andalusia region, but starting on Thursday June 10th heavy storms, strong winds and some hail are expected in the Valencia region, Catalonia and other parts of northeastern Spain. 

By Friday, the stormy weather is forecast to affect all the northern half of the Spanish mainland and the Canary Islands, even though temperatures will remain above 30C across much of the Spanish territory. As the images above shared by Spain’s national weather agency AEMET show, the rain will continue in many parts of Spain throughout the weekend and on Monday. 

So even though in 19th century Spain a sayo or tunic may have been the best way to stay dry, we suggest that you keep your raincoat handy because you may well need it in the next few days.


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Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.