Wednesday August 23rd was a “baking day throughout the Iberian Peninsula”. This is how one of the spokesmen of the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet), José Luis Camacho, defines it. With an average temperature of 29°, it was the warmest day in Spain this year. An average of 22° would have been usual on this day. And this record-breaking heatwave is the longest and most intense of the year, according to Aemet. The agency has detailed that three days of this episode of extreme temperatures are already among the ten warmest days in Spain since 1950. In fact, this Wednesday’s average temperature is the third highest on record, following records from August 14, 2021 and August 10, 2012. Tuesday was fourth on the list and Monday is ninth. Aemet reports that a heat wave has never been registered in Spain as late as the current one and with this intensity and extent.
In the main network of Aemet, which has 93 observatories, the ranking of maximum temperatures from stations in the Ebro Valley to Miranda de Ebro in the province of Burgos and Tortosa-Roquetes in Tarragona is led by 43.9 °. followed by Tablada and Carmona in Seville with 43.5° and 43.4 degrees. Also noteworthy are the cities of Ramales de la Victoria in Cantabria with 43.3°; and Orozko-Ibarra in Biscay at 43.1°, all in northern Spain, as is the station on the Bilbao Airport premises, where a maximum of 44° was measured. Maximum temperatures also exceeded 40° in parts of southern Galicia and Asturias.
Early morning lows on the 23rd were exceptionally warm in many enclaves. For example, the 29.4° minimum at the Fabra Observatory in Barcelona, which set a historic record, and scorching nighttime values of more than 25° minimum in Tarifa, Getafe, the Retiro station in Madrid and in Segovia, which still never before been observed in a month of August.
Strong drop in temperature
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As of Wednesday, Spain had registered 17 record warm days in Spain in 2023. This means there were 17 days when the highest average temperature was recorded compared to the same dates since records began in 1950. Forecasts suggest that both Thursday and Friday will also set new records for warm days, making it 19 in 2023. The forecast at the beginning of the year was that the number of records in all of 2023 would not exceed five, so by the end of August, the forecast for clear weather has almost quadrupled. In contrast, there was no cold day record this year. Temperatures will drop below 20C in much of the area next Sunday, according to Aemet’s forecast, after a sharp drop in heat over the weekend. Sunday won’t be an absolute extreme, but they are very rare records for August 27: it will be in the 5% of coldest days on August 27 since at least 1950.
The drop in temperature will be very significant. It will range from highs not measured at this time of year to typical early fall averages on Sunday and Monday. Then there will be a slight recovery, but August comes to an end and September begins with cool temperatures. This descent begins on Friday with the arrival of a cooler air mass from the Atlantic, leaving highs of 22° and 24° on the Cantabrian coast, causing a temperature drop on its way. The north of the peninsula will see highs below 32° and 34°, but 40° will remain in the Guadalquivir valley on Friday. At the weekend it will cover the whole area except for the Canary Islands. This front will only leave temperatures above 30° in the south-west quadrant. The wind will turn north and intensify, with very strong gusts in the Ebro Valley, the Balearic Islands and the mountainous areas of the northern half. There will be rains on the Cantabrian coast and storms in the Mediterranean.
Some Korean pilgrims refresh themselves in the well of a hostel in Logroño this Thursday. Fernando Diaz (EFE)
Low temperatures will also gradually return to normal, with readings generally below 20° on Sunday, with the exception of the Alborán coast and the south-east, where the temperature drop is expected on Monday. On both Sunday and Monday, minimum temperatures are likely to reach values below 10° in the northern plateau, the Iberian system and the Pyrenees, with possible frosts in high mountain areas. From Sunday, if there is greater uncertainty, a rise in temperature is possible, which will reach normal values for the time.
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