Mainland Spain and Portugal have broken temperature records for April, officials said Friday, as both nations are affected by an early heatwave that has raised the risk of wildfires.
The national weather office AEMET reported that on Thursday, the airport in Cordoba, Spain, saw temperatures of 38.8 degrees Celsius (101.8 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking the previous record of 38.6C in Elche, located in the eastern part of the country.
AEMET stated that this temperature reading is provisional, and it may take several days to confirm. However, Spain recorded the highest April temperature in 2013, in the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, when the temperature rose to 40.2C.
Additionally, neighbouring Portugal witnessed a temperature rise to 36.9C in the central town of Mora, breaking the previous record of 36C set in April 1945 in the northeastern town of Pinhao, IPMA weather agency said. Even though temperatures dropped in Portugal on Friday, the heatwave persisted in most parts of Spain, with temperatures soaring to 36C in Cordoba.
The early heatwave has resulted from a mass of hot and dry air spread from Africa. Warnings about the risk of wildfires have been issued due to the high temperatures and worsened drought conditions that have forced some Spanish farmers not to sow seeds this year.
According to the European Forest Fire Information System, blazes have already ravaged 54,000 hectares (133,400 acres) of land in Spain this year, compared with just over 17,000 hectares during the same time in 2022.
The Spanish government has announced that it would launch its forest fire monitoring campaign on Friday, a month and a half earlier than usual as a result of the scorching temperatures.
This campaign will entail adding reinforcements to local firefighting teams and the “continuous monitoring of forest fires” across the country, according to a statement by the interior ministry.
Spain faced its hottest year on record in 2022, with almost 75 percent of its land vulnerable to desertification due to climate change, according to UN figures.
National water reservoirs are half-empty, and as per the COAG farmers’ union, 60 percent of farmland is “suffocating” from the lack of precipitation.
Spain is Europe’s primary vegetable and fruit supplier and the globe’s biggest olive oil exporter.
Experts claim that human-driven climate change is heightening the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions such as heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires.