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Wednesday is likely to be one of the hottest days in Spain in 73 years

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The Local Spain/AFP - [email protected]
Wednesday is likely to be one of the hottest days in Spain in 73 years
A woman covers her head with a fan during a heatwave in Cordoba, southern Spain on August 8, 2023. The Iberian Peninsula is bearing the brunt of climate change in Europe, witnessing increasingly intense heatwaves, droughts and wildfires. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO / AFP)

Temperatures are expected to hit 44C in Spain on Wednesday August 9th, as 40 of the country's 50 provinces are on alert and the average national temperature is so high it will "probably be one of the hottest August days since 1950" according to the national weather agency.

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With huge forest fires raging across southern Portugal for the fifth successive day, Spain's weather service warned that the average temperature across the country could hit a 73-year record.

"This will probably be one of the hottest five August days in 73 years," said AEMET, the state meteorological agency, with almost the whole country under orange or red weather alerts.

A total of 21 provincial capitals will reach at least 40 degrees Centigrade: Ciudad Real and Córdoba (44); Granada, Jaén and Toledo (43); Albacete (42); Bilbao, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Logroño, Madrid, Teruel, Valladolid, Vitoria and Zaragoza (41), and Badajoz, Burgos, Palencia, Pamplona, ​​Seville and Zamora (40).

Forty of Spain's 50 provinces have at least a yellow alert for hot weather, 29 for temperatures between 37C and 43C.

In places such as Álava, Burgos, Córdoba, Cuenca, Granada, Guipúzcoa, Jaén, Madrid and Vizcaya the mercury could hit 44C. 

Only A Coruña, Alicante, the Balearic Islands, Barcelona, ​​Castellón, Girona, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Pontevedra, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Tarragona, as well as the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, will escape the sweltering heat.

Winds and extreme heat are also driving fires that have devastated 15,000 hectares of trees in neighbouring Portugal over the past few days.

The biggest blazes are in the southern Odemira region, where more than 1,500 people have been evacuated with the fires reaching the Algarve, a hugely popular tourist destination.

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But firefighters tackling the wildfires said they were bringing them under control Wednesday, with a fall in temperatures and greater humidity at the coast helping stem the spread as hot air moves east.

Experts say the recurring heatwaves, which have been getting longer and more intense, are a consequence of climate change.

The Iberian Peninsula is bearing the brunt of climate change in Europe, with droughts and wildfires becoming more and more common.

Spanish firefighters were using up to a dozen water bombers to slow the spread of the flames around Valencia de Alcantara in Extremadura close to the border with Portugal.

"We evacuated our clients to a hotel in Alcantara," said Joaquín Dieguez, the owner of a holiday cottage. "But we are really worried because we have an enormous forest here with century-old oak trees. It's awful," he added.

First estimations suggest that 350 hectares of trees have gone up in smoke. The blaze comes after 573 hectares were destroyed in wildfires in Portbou in Catalonia in the northeast, with 450 acres of trees lost by another fire near Bonares in Andalusia in the south.

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