Spain roasts in record-breaking 38C spring heatwave

Spain roasts in record-breaking 38C spring heatwave with parts of the country now the ‘driest in a thousand years’ and on high alert for wildfires

  • Temperatures hit 38.7C at Cordoba airport, a record for April, meteorologists say
  • Spain hit by wildfires this year and further warnings put out today amid drought
  • READ MORE: Horse dies while made to pull tourist carriages through Seville

Spain has recorded its hottest ever April temperatures today, a whopping 38.7C, as the country is on high alert for wildfires amid the worst dry spell ‘in a thousand years’.

The country has been enveloped by warm, dry air from North Africa since Monday, that has driven up temperatures to ‘levels normally seen in summer’, according to meteorologists.

Tragically, a horse died and another collapsed as they were forced to pull tourist carriages through Seville in the shocking heat. 

The blistering temperatures across the Iberian peninsula were too warm even for sunseekers, with tourists pictured fanning themselves and desperately trying to cool off.

There had been warnings that the heatwave would peak today or Friday at as high as 40C, with previous records set around the country yesterday already smashed.

The sky high temperatures were even too warm for sunseekers. Tourists in Seville tried to cool down at a fountain

Tourists at the Feria de Abril in Seville pictured fanning themselves and desperately trying to keep the heat off

Scorching temperatures have prompted warnings about the ‘high risk’ of wildfires in a nation that has already seen fires ravage 133,400 acres of land so far this year, compared with 42,000 acres in the same period last year.

Experts say parts of Spain are the driest in a thousand years, with a prolonged drought depleting reservoirs to half of their normal capacity, figures show.

On Thursday, the mercury hit a record 38.7C at Cordoba airport in the south, just after 17.00 local time, according to the meteorological service.

On Wednesday, at least three areas around Seville and Huelva recorded temperatures of 37C.

One English tourist from London said she hadn’t expected the temperatures to be so high for her April holiday.  

Midwife Natalie, 40, said: ‘Thinking it was spring we thought it wasn’t going to be to hot here but, wow! 

‘This is a complete surprise, its roasting but its gorgeous as well. People are lovely, we are having a great time, atmosphere is beautiful. 

‘So we can’t complain, but we are going home today. To the rain.’

On Thursday, the mercury hit a record 38.7C at Cordoba airport in the south, just after 17.00 local time, according to the meteorological service

When asked how she was coping with the extreme heat, she said: ‘Lots of drinks, lots of fluids, lots of shade and we just walk on the shady part of the street. 

‘It’s not something we are used to I guess, but we will enjoy it while it’s here.’

‘It’s really hot, I keep looking for the shade and for water,’ Juan Benito, a 33-year-old barman, said in Seville, where many people could be seen fanning themselves to try to keep cool.

READ MORE: One horse dies and second collapses while made to pull tourist carriages through Seville during Spain’s record 36C April heatwave 

A horse made to pull tourist carriages through Seville during Spain’s record 36C April heatwave has died. Bystanders rushed to the horse to try and revive it by water

This could be one of the hottest months of April in Spain since records started, according to Ruben del Campo, spokesman for Spain’s national weather office AEMET.

‘Due to its intensity and early character, this episode fits with what we are observing climate change causes,’ he added.

Spain’s health ministry has recommended that the country’s regions activate their heat plans – which outline measures to protect people from scorching temperatures.

Normally the heat plans start on June 1 but the ministry said this year they could come into effect as early as May 15, depending on the situation in each region.

The regional government of Madrid said metro trains in the Spanish capital would pass more frequently than usual to prevent long waits on platforms and crowding.

It is also considering opening some public swimming pools earlier in the year to help people cool off.

Schools will also be allowed to adapt timetables to avoid the worst of the heat. 

The health ministry warned people to drink lots of water, moderate their consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and to keep an eye on vulnerable members of the community such as children and the elderly.

The heatwave follows an abnormally warm and dry spring, spelling catastrophe for the agriculture sector in Spain, which is the world’s biggest exporter of olive oil and a key source of Europe’s fruit and vegetables.

The situation is so bad that some farmers have opted not to plant crops, with the COAG farmers’ union warning that 60 percent of farmland was ‘suffocating’ from lack of rainfall.

Visitors drink water as they arrive for the Feria de Abril bullfighting festival at La Maestranza bullring in Seville

Women dressed in traditional outfits at the Feria de Abril make use of their fans in the scorching weather

A man sits in the grass to cool off during a heatwave in Cordoba

Spain on Tuesday urged Brussels to activate the bloc’s agriculture crisis reserve to help farmers cope with the exceptional drought, while also announcing a series of tax breaks.

Last year, Spain experienced its hottest year since records began, with UN figures suggesting nearly 75 percent of its land is susceptible to desertification due to climate change.

The number of days with summer temperatures in Spain has increased from 90 to 145 between 1971 and 2022, according to a study by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia published Tuesday.

A woman wearing traditional Andalusian dress cools off with a fan on Plaza de Espana in Seville

A couple ride in a horse carriage with a sun umbrella in the annual traditional Feria de Abril in Seville

Portugal, another popular destination for British tourists, was also feeling the heat today. 

Temperatures were expected to be ’10-15 degrees Celsius higher than normal’ rising to as much as 37C, a day after the mercury touched 35.4C in the south.

Several municipalities were placed at very high risk of fire, including two in the Algarve, while 30 were put at high risk. 

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