Spain set for warmest New Year’s weather in 20 years

Temperatures on December 31st and January 1st will be 15 degrees higher than average for this time of year, the balmiest New Year's weather in Spain in two decades according to meteorologists.

beach warm wearther spain new year's eve
Expect temperatures in the low twenties in many parts of Spain on December 31st and January 1st. Photo: PAU BARRENA/AFP, Map: Aemet

Spain looks set to experience the hottest New Year period in years, an ideal scenario in terms of avoiding indoor spaces as coronavirus cases keep shooting up during this sixth wave of the coronavirus. 

According to meteorologists, the end of the year and start of 2022 will feel much more like spring than winter.

In fact, they believe Spain could have the warmest New Year temperatures for 20 years, with an increase of up to 15 degrees compared to last year.

READ ALSO: How Spain’s regions are tightening Covid restrictions for New Year’s Eve

Although it has been rainy across parts of Spain during the Christmas period, temperatures in the last days of 2021 may be much higher than is normal at this time of year, and it will be especially noticeable in northern Spain.

On New Year’s Day for example, parts of Galicia, including A Coruña, could reach the low-twenties.

But this warm spell won’t last, according to experts.

Spain’s national weather agency Aemet have said that sometime during the first week of January, “the wind is going to enter from the north in a large part of the peninsula and we could return to the normal temperatures for this time of year, or even a little lower.”  So enjoy the warm weather while you can then, and see a breakdown below:

New Year’s Eve (December 31st)

Pretty much all of Spain will experience higher than usual temperatures on New Year’s Eve, including Barcelona in the high-teens and, incredibly, parts of northern Spain may reach the high-teens or twenty, although there is a chance of showers in Galicia in the afternoon.

Madrid will be a warm 16°C, and much of Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia, including Alicante, will be in the high-teens or low twenties. The Balearics will hover around 20°C on New Year’s Eve, and the Canaries will enjoy slightly hotter temperatures, in the mid-twenties, with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria forecast to reach a staggering 27°C.

Aemet’s temperature forecast across the Spanish mainland and the Balearics for 3pm on Friday December 31st.

New Year’s Day (January 1st)

Much of the same on New Year’s Day. Temperatures may even rise a degree or two, hitting the high-teens or low twenties across much of Catalonia and Spain’s northern regions. Bilbao is forecast to be in the low twenties, as is San Sebastian and Oviedo with a low-risk of rain and clouds forecast.

Aemet’s maximum and minimum temperature forecast for mainland Spain and the Balearics on Saturday January 1st.

Madrid will stay in the high-teens, and Andalucia, Murcia, Alicante, and Valencia will all stay in the high-teens to low-to-mid-twenties with little chance of rain but a chance of cloudy spells on Spain’s southern Atlantic coast.

The Canaries will stay in the low-to-mid-twenties, and the Balearics in the high-teens.

It’s not unusual for temperatures in the Canaries over Christmas to be in the mid-twenties. Map: Aemet

Experts have been quick to downplay the role of climate change, or the prospect of a January heatwave, however.

It is not a heatwave, Meteored meteorologist Francisco Martín says, but a “period of high temperatures” that affects other parts of Europe as well. “This is quite a spring break that is also being noticed in France and the United Kingdom,” he says.

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‘Thousands of hectares’ destroyed by wildfire in Spain

Firefighters were battling strong winds Monday as a huge forest fire burnt out of control in southeastern Spain while another blaze in the north was stabilised.

'Thousands of hectares' destroyed by wildfire in Spain

Both fires broke out late Saturday, with more than 350 firefighters engaged against the wildfire in the northern Aragon region that has so far devastated an area of 6,000 hectares forcing at least 1,500 people from their homes.

But as they managed to steady the Aragon blaze after successfully preventing it from entering a protected nature reserve, the wildfire in the southeastern Valencia region continued to spread.

READ ALSO: Are Spain’s wildfires a risk to people’s health?

The Aragon emergency services estimate “thousands” of hectares have been destroyed by the fire.

The “rapid spread” of the flames, stoked by winds, is “critical”, the regional president, Javier Lamban, told media.

Spain has faced 388 wildfires since the start of the year, fuelled by scorching temperatures and drought conditions.

The blazes have destroyed 261,930 hectares in Spain this year, more than in any other country in Europe, according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System.

Fires in the South fanned by winds

Hundreds of firefighters backed by 25 planes and helicopters were tackling the flames in the Vall de Ebo, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the coastal resort of Benidorm.

So far, more than 6,500 hectares of land have been destroyed and more than 1,200 fled from their homes, with firefighting efforts complicated by strong winds in terrain that is difficult to access, the regional administration said.

“It is a very complex fire and very complicated terrain. We evacuated more than 1,000 people yesterday and last night, we had to evacuate 70 or 80 more homes,” regional emergency chief Jose Maria Angel told Cadena SER radio saying the fire’s perimeter was “progressively increasing”.

Scientists say human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events including heatwaves and droughts more frequent and more intense. They in turn increase the risk of fires, which emit climate heating greenhouse gases.

READ ALSO: What to do and what to avoid if you witness a forest fire in Spain

Fires have blazed in other European countries including France, Greece and Portugal, making 2022 a record year for wildfire activity on the continent.

What causes forest fires?

According to the latest data from the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, there were at least 179 people investigated and arrested for intentionally starting fires in the first half of 2022.

The most common reasons that have been revealed by the Forest Fire Statistics (EGIF) from the Ministry of Agriculture are to remove scrub and agricultural waste, to regenerate grass for livestock, pyromaniacs, vandalism and to making hunting easier.

READ MORE: Why are there so many forest fires in Spain?

Of course, not all forest fires in Spain are started deliberately. The high temperatures, winds and dry plant material, due to lack of rain in summer, all provide the perfect ingredients for fires across the country.

Declining rural populations in some of Spain’s regions are also causing more fires as fields are abandoned and plant life is left to grow wild. There are also fewer farm animals to help clear the land of scrub.