Spain is bracing itself for a heatwave unheard of in late spring as a column of Saharan air brings with it temperatures of 107F (42C), red dust clouds, and an extreme risk of wildfires
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Spain is bracing itself for a heatwave unheard of in late spring as a column of Saharan air brings with it temperatures of 107F (42C), red dust clouds, and an extreme risk of wildfires. 

Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, put the cause of the extreme heat wave on a wall of hot and dry air coming up from Africa, bringing to Spain and southern Europe ‘one of the hottest Mays in this country in recent years’.    

Aemet said it had activated its national plan for excess temperatures two weeks early on Thursday as ‘the summer is starting in the spring’. 

Normally the plan is activated between June and September, but the period for temperatures ‘in the 30s’ (86F plus) had ‘arrived 20 – 40 days early’. 

‘The last updates to the meteorological models confirm the extraordinary intensity of this heatwave,’ said Rubén del Campo, a spokesperson for Aemet, who predicts daily temperatures between 50F (10C) and 59F (15C) above the seasonal average. 

‘For Spain as a whole, it could be the most intense May heatwave of the past 20 years in terms of both the maximum and minimum temperatures. 

Spain is bracing itself for a heatwave unheard of in late spring as a column of Saharan air brings with it temperatures of 107F (42C), red dust clouds, and an extreme risk of wildfires

Spain is bracing itself for a heatwave unheard of in late spring as a column of Saharan air brings with it temperatures of 107F (42C), red dust clouds, and an extreme risk of wildfires

Spain's state meteorological agency, Aemet, put the cause of the extreme heat wave on a wall of hot and dry air coming up from Africa, bringing to Spain and southern Europe 'one of the hottest Mays in this country in recent years'

Spain’s state meteorological agency, Aemet, put the cause of the extreme heat wave on a wall of hot and dry air coming up from Africa, bringing to Spain and southern Europe ‘one of the hottest Mays in this country in recent years’

Pictured: A heat map for Spain this weekend, showing temperatures around 100F in some parts. Normally the plan is activated between June and September, but the period for temperatures 'in the 30s' (86F plus) had 'arrived 20 - 40 days early'

Pictured: A heat map for Spain this weekend, showing temperatures around 100F in some parts. Normally the plan is activated between June and September, but the period for temperatures ‘in the 30s’ (86F plus) had ‘arrived 20 – 40 days early’

Friday and Saturday will be the hottest days in general terms and, although there will be an important drop in temperatures on Sunday across the western third of the peninsula, that could be the hottest day in parts of the eastern side of Spain and in the Balearic islands.’ 

Temperatures are expected to break the 100F (40C) barrier in several locations in the southern region of Andalucía today, and on the east coast around the Ebro valley – ‘something unheard of in that area in May’.

Spain recorded its highest ever temperature only last year, when the Andalucían town of Montoro near Cordoba hit 117F (47C) on August 15.

Del Campo warned of the extreme risk of forest fires that such heat across the southern, central and north eastern parts of the country would entail and said people could expect another calima dust cloud.

‘This will be an extreme episode and the risk that comes with the high temperatures will be important in many areas,’ he said.

‘Another thing to be aware of is dust in the air, which could lead to calimas in the south and east of the peninsula, with murky skies and reduced visibility. 

Friday and Saturday will be the hottest days in general terms and, although there will be an important drop in temperatures on Sunday across the western third of the peninsula, that could be the hottest day in parts of the eastern side of Spain and in the Balearic islands'

Friday and Saturday will be the hottest days in general terms and, although there will be an important drop in temperatures on Sunday across the western third of the peninsula, that could be the hottest day in parts of the eastern side of Spain and in the Balearic islands’

Temperatures are expected to break the 100F (40C) barrier in several locations in the southern region of Andalucía today, and on the east coast around the Ebro valley - 'something unheard of in that area in May'

Temperatures are expected to break the 100F (40C) barrier in several locations in the southern region of Andalucía today, and on the east coast around the Ebro valley – ‘something unheard of in that area in May’

Spain recorded its highest ever temperature only last year, when the Andalucían town of Montoro near Cordoba hit 117F (47C) on August 15

Spain recorded its highest ever temperature only last year, when the Andalucían town of Montoro near Cordoba hit 117F (47C) on August 15

That concentration of dust in the air could increase on Friday and Saturday across the peninsula and the Balearic islands as air comes in from north Africa carrying the dust from the Sahara. That will again cause a decline in air quality.’

The Spanish government has warned that people in affected areas that vulnerable people such as children, pregnant women, and older and chronically ill people will be at extra risk.

They advise keeping hydrated and wearing light clothing.

Del Campo believes that the only cause of such extreme temperatures can be climate change.

‘What is happening fits perfectly with a situation where the planet is hotter,’ he said. 

France is also suffering from an extreme pre-summer heat wave, breaking temperatures as it enters its 38th consecutive day of abnormal temperatures.

Areas in the south have already exceeded 90F (33C) and some models predict temperatures to beat 100F (38C) by the weekend, a staggering 62F (17C) hotter than average for the year. 

The UK, a little further north, will also catch the coattails of the heatwave and dust cloud. 

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