Spain to swelter under ‘final’ heatwave of the summer

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The average temperature during July was 26.6C, which is 2.7C above normal, revealed Spain’s state meteorological agency AEMET on Monday.

The July heatwave caused scorching temperatures across most of the country, including the Balearic and the Canary Islands.

The high temperatures were caused when an Atlantic anticyclone displaced a very warm African air mass over the Iberian Peninsula, explained AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo.

The wave that affected the peninsula and the Balearic Islands between July 9th and 26th was “the most significant since records began” said AEMET, adding that it was also the “most intense and the most extensive, as well as the second longest”.

Spain suffered its longest heatwave in 2015, which lasted 26 days, however, the average temperature for the whole country was 0.2°C below this year’s average. Up until now, July 2015 was the hottest in Spain since records began 61 years ago.

This July also “far surpassed” the heatwave of August last year, with temperatures 4.8°C above the hottest month in 2021.

READ ALSO: Spanish climate deniers use past heat records to sow doubt online

Which parts of Spain experienced the greatest rise in temperatures?

Not all parts of the country were affected equally in July. The mercury was 5C above normal in Galicia, southern and central Castilla y León, Madrid, Extremadura, and western Castilla La-Mancha, as well as the interior of Andalusia and the Pyrenees.

The daily maximum temperatures were on average 3.3C above normal, while the minimum temperatures were 2.2C higher than normal, “resulting in a daily thermal oscillation of 1.1 C, which is higher than average for July”, explained AEMET.

The Carlos III Health Institute estimated that, between July 1st and 29th, there were 9,687 more deaths than expected for that period, of which 2,124 were attributed to the sweltering hot weather.

One of the driest months on record 

Not only did July 2022 see roasting conditions, but it was also the driest month in the last 15 years. During this time there was an average rainfall over mainland Spain of 8.6mm. It was also the driest month of the entire 21st century, behind the months of July in 2005 and 2007.

The areas most affected by the lack of rain were Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country and Castilla y León, Extremadura, Soria and eastern Catalonia, many of which usually experience the greatest amount of rain in the country.

In the Canary Islands, however, it was the third wettest July of the 21st century.

READ ALSO – Drought: Where in Spain are there limits on water usage?

Heatwaves across Europe

But it wasn’t only Spain that experienced intense heatwaves. July 2022 was also the sixth hottest in Europe since records began according to Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme.

Last month was also one of the three hottest Julys globally on record, registering 0.4C above the reference period from 1991 to 2020. Only July 2019 and 2016 exceeded this year’s temperature.