There isn’t a breeze blowing in Mallorca these days. Temperatures are approaching, especially in the center of the island, the 40 degree mark – in the shade. Even sunbathing is no longer pure pleasure. Authorities recommend that it is best not to go out in the sun in the hot midday hours. In addition, there is a maximum risk of forest fires. Mallorca is suffering from a strong heat wave these June days – and summer hasn’t even started yet (according to the calendar).
Expected up to 44 degrees Celsius
It’s even worse in mainland Spain. The southern half of Spain in particular, between the capital Madrid and the Andalusia region, is like an oven. Up to 44 degrees were expected in the southern cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada. At night, temperatures don’t drop below 27 degrees in some places. These are extreme tropical nights, quite rare in Spain, even in the middle of summer.
Warm air masses are the culprit, which moved from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to southern Europe and settled in Spain. At least until next Sunday, therefore, it should remain unusually hot in the Iberian Peninsula. Tourists traveling to Spain in Corpus Christi and the upcoming weekend should therefore bring a hat and sunscreen.
In southern Spain, near the coastal city of Almería, the first heat-related death has already been recorded: it is a hiker who has run out of drinking water. He suffered heat stroke and then fell into a ravine. Rescuers, who were alerted by an escort, were only able to determine death.
Spain’s meteorological office speaks of the hottest June of this century and has set off a heat alarm for much of Spain; only the Canary Islands looks better at the moment. Temperatures are widely 7-12 degrees above normal. Even the mild Spanish winter was one of the warmest in history. The average temperature in May, when peak values of 40 degrees were also reached, was a record.
“All of this is further evidence that summers are getting longer and longer,” says a spokesperson for the state weather agency. “Heat waves will become more frequent and more intense.” For meteorologists there is little doubt that these weather phenomena are related to climate change caused by greenhouse gases.
“Spain is one of the countries most threatened by climate change,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez warned months ago. This is due to its proximity to Africa and the Sahara Desert, which is increasingly moving towards the Mediterranean. That is why the island of Mallorca, which lies halfway between the North African coast and the European mainland, is particularly affected. Scientists warn that the island paradise could face unbearable temperatures if climate collapse is not slowed.
Escape inside the building
Spain is currently experiencing what can happen: Most residents flee inside the building when the outside temperatures are so horrific. In homes, offices and shopping malls, air conditioners are whirring at full speed. Only after sunset does life return to the streets. The outdoor terraces of the bars and restaurants fill up during the most pleasant hours of the night.
Tourists in particular are out on the streets during the day in this hellish heat. They protect themselves from the sun with a sombrero, baseball cap or an open umbrella. Many people cool off at the public fountains along the way. Others are constantly waving city maps and fans at each other. Some take souvenir photos in front of the huge temperature charts that can be found in many cities and show over 40 degrees.
At the same time, the great heat makes it difficult to fight several forest fires. The worst wildfire has been raging for a week in the interior of the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, not far from the famous seaside resort of Marbella. So far, more than 3,500 hectares of forest have been destroyed there, which is roughly equivalent to the number of football fields. Firefighters managed to prevent the flames from spreading. The cause of the fire is still uncertain.