Spain bakes on fifth day of early heatwave

Almost all of Spain continued to sizzle on Wednesday during the worst June heatwave in 20 years, with the mercury set to remain way above normal temperatures for this time of year until at least Saturday.

Spain bakes on fifth day of early heatwave
People sunbathe at the Retiro Park in Madrid during a heatwave affecting most of the country. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

Nine of the country’s 17 regions on orange alert, the second highest level possible, Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET said.

However, temperatures remain above normal for June in all autonomous communities except Asturias and the Canary Islands.

The mercury is set to hit 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in Badajoz in the southwest, 40 in Seville in the south and 39 in Madrid, sizzling conditions more common in mid-summer than the first half of June.

The heatwave has produced temperatures between 7C and 12C higher than the average for this time of the year since it started on Saturday, said AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo.

“This is a very unusual situation. These temperatures are not normal in mid-June,” he added.

Scientists say heat waves have become more likely due to climate change. As global temperatures rise over time, heat waves are predicted to become more frequent and intense and last longer, and their impacts more widespread.

The authorities urged residents to drink plenty of water, reduce physical activity and stay in cool places as much as possible.

The head of the regional government of Andalusia, in the hard-hit south, said the scorching temperatures were a sign that “climate change is an absolute reality”.

“In Andalusia, the consequences are very rough,” he added.

Temperatures are expected to ease over the weekend. The extreme weather, which arrived on a wave of hot air from north Africa, is headed for southwest France.

Spain also grappled with a heatwave at the end of May, with temperatures up to 15C above the seasonal average.

Last month was Spain’s hottest May since the beginning of the century.

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Spain battles northwest wildfires

Spanish firefighters on Saturday struggled to contain wildfires that have ravaged large tracts in the northwest, as a third summer heat wave grips the country.

Spain battles northwest wildfires

Firefighters were battling six blazes in Galicia that have scorched nearly 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres).

Some 700 people have been evacuated from the area around Boiro, where a blaze broke out on Thursday, according to regional officials.

But no casualties have been reported so far.

“The situation remains complicated. Helicopters are not enough to control all of the homes,” the mayor of neighbouring A Pobra do Caraminal, Xose Lois Pinero, wrote on Facebook.

Near the town of Verin, by the border with Portugal, authorities were managing to contain a fire that started Wednesday and is suspected to have been arson, Galicia government said.

Temperatures hit a 40.9 degrees Celsius (105.62 Fahrenheit) high on Thursday, according to the national weather agency. They have eased since, but were expected to remain around 35C across much of the country on Saturday.

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

Spain has faced 366 wildfires since the start of the year, fuelled by scorching temperatures and drought conditions.

The flames have destroyed more than 233,000 hectares, more than in any other nation in Europe, according to the European Union’s satellite monitoring service EFFIS.