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ANIMAL

Spain’s mild winter is waking bears from hibernation early

Brown bears in the Pyrenees have been spotted waking early from their winter slumber thanks to the warm weather but there's a cold front coming.

Spain's mild winter is waking bears from hibernation early
Screenshot taken from Canal de l'usuari catterritori YouTube page.

Warmer than average temperatures in Spain this winter have caused bears living in the Pyrenees mountains in Catalonia to wake up and postpone their hibernation, according to the regional Department of Territory and Sustainability

The department reported on Wednesday that a team of scientists monitoring bears in the mountains recorded video of a mother bear with three cubs roaming around looking for food as recently as Tuesday.

“At this time of year, the whole family should be hibernating inside of a cave,” the sustainability department wrote.

The mother, known as Caramellita, had been known to the researchers since May 2014.

In the video, the bears can be seen scaling a mountainside, probably in search of acorns on the ground near the village of Lladorre, according to the report. 

The report said that it seemed the mild temperatures and little snowfall had made the bears decide to delay hibernation.

“It is possible that they may have started to sleep, but due to favourable weather conditions and the availability of food, they woke up and came out to eat and walk,” the department stated. “When it definitively starts to snow, they will begin their hibernation again.”

And the snow is expected to fall quite vigorously in mountainous parts of the country, according to an alert by Spain's Commission for Civil Defense and Emergencies on Thursday.

The commission reported that both Cantabria and Navarra in the north were expected to experience “heavy snowfall” of up to 20 centimetres. The Basque country, northeast Catalonia and León could also see such snowfall on Friday.

“If you're going to drive, especially in mountainous areas, inform yourself about the weather conditions and the status of the roadways,” the commission advised. “Always bring snow chains or mountain tires, a full tank of gasoline and don't forget to bring your cell phone with its charger.”

The warmer temperatures so far this winter have also prompted almond trees to bloom too soon, raising concerns about climate change, experts said this week.

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WEATHER

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

Temperatures are set to rise dramatically across Italy this weekend as the country prepares for its first real heatwave of the year, meteorologists said on Friday.

Italy braces for first heatwave of the year with highs of over 30C

People across Italy are preparing to head to the beach this weekend with unseasonably hot weather predicted to last for several days.

The heatwave is caused by an anticyclone named  ‘Hannibal’ sweeping in from Tunisia and Algeria, bringing hot air currents across the Mediterranean and as far north as Denmark and Poland, reports news agency Ansa.

Temperatures are forecast to rise above 32-33°C in parts of the Italian north including Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, and Emilia Romagna, before the heatwave expands towards the centre and south of the country over the course of the weekend.

The weather is already 8°C above the seasonal average for this time of year, according to Antonio Sanò, founder of the Italian weather site IlMeteo.it, and temperatures could rise by as much as 10°C.

READ ALSO: From Venice to Mont Blanc, how is the climate crisis affecting Italy?

In a typical year these kinds of highs wouldn’t be seen until July, Sanò said.

The incoming heatwave will be particularly humid as the anticyclone is carrying moisture from the Mediterranean sea, according to IlMeteo.

However, the relative cool of the Mediterranean basin at this time of year will contain the heat and keep the temperatures from rising into the high 30s, as would happen if the same type of weather event occurred in August.

READ ALSO: Nine in 10 Italians ‘want more action on climate crisis’, new study finds

The heatwave will stretch over the weekend and continue into next week, peaking on Tuesday, according to weather reports.

Patchy thunderstorms typical of midsummer weather are anticipated in the Alps and the Po Valley, while the centre-south is set to experience hot and sunny conditions bar some isolated storms in the mountains of Abruzzo on Sunday.

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