‘2.7C above normal’: Spain registers hottest month on record

July certainly felt like a scorcher, but it was revealed that it was in fact the hottest month in Spain since records began in 1961.

heatwave in Spain
July 2022 was hottest on record in Spain. Photo: THOMAS COEX / AFP

The average temperature during July was 26.6C, which is 2.7C above normal, revealed Spain’s state meteorological agency AEMET on Monday.

The July heatwave caused scorching temperatures across most of the country, including the Balearic and the Canary Islands.

The high temperatures were caused when an Atlantic anticyclone displaced a very warm African air mass over the Iberian Peninsula, explained AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo.

The wave that affected the peninsula and the Balearic Islands between July 9th and 26th was “the most significant since records began” said AEMET, adding that it was also the “most intense and the most extensive, as well as the second longest”.

Spain suffered its longest heatwave in 2015, which lasted 26 days, however, the average temperature for the whole country was 0.2°C below this year’s average. Up until now, July 2015 was the hottest in Spain since records began 61 years ago.

This July also “far surpassed” the heatwave of August last year, with temperatures 4.8°C above the hottest month in 2021.

READ ALSO: Spanish climate deniers use past heat records to sow doubt online

Which parts of Spain experienced the greatest rise in temperatures?

Not all parts of the country were affected equally in July. The mercury was 5C above normal in Galicia, southern and central Castilla y León, Madrid, Extremadura, and western Castilla La-Mancha, as well as the interior of Andalusia and the Pyrenees.

The daily maximum temperatures were on average 3.3C above normal, while the minimum temperatures were 2.2C higher than normal, “resulting in a daily thermal oscillation of 1.1 C, which is higher than average for July”, explained AEMET.

The Carlos III Health Institute estimated that, between July 1st and 29th, there were 9,687 more deaths than expected for that period, of which 2,124 were attributed to the sweltering hot weather.

One of the driest months on record 

Not only did July 2022 see roasting conditions, but it was also the driest month in the last 15 years. During this time there was an average rainfall over mainland Spain of 8.6mm. It was also the driest month of the entire 21st century, behind the months of July in 2005 and 2007.

The areas most affected by the lack of rain were Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country and Castilla y León, Extremadura, Soria and eastern Catalonia, many of which usually experience the greatest amount of rain in the country.

In the Canary Islands, however, it was the third wettest July of the 21st century.

READ ALSO – Drought: Where in Spain are there limits on water usage?

Heatwaves across Europe

But it wasn’t only Spain that experienced intense heatwaves. July 2022 was also the sixth hottest in Europe since records began according to Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme.

Last month was also one of the three hottest Julys globally on record, registering 0.4C above the reference period from 1991 to 2020. Only July 2019 and 2016 exceeded this year’s temperature.

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Storms lash drought-hit Spain

Spain's weather agency issued weather warnings for large parts of the country Tuesday as several days of torrential rains following a prolonged drought caused minor flooding.

Storms lash drought-hit Spain

The heavy rains have mainly affected the southern provinces of Alicante and Almería which have been hit by several thunderstorms since the weekend.

Torrential rains have also lashed Madrid, where several roads were cut on Monday night due to flooding.

Flooding also temporarily interrupted traffic along stretches of three of the Spanish capital’s 12 metro lines, local officials said.

State weather agency AEMET placed most of northern Spain on alert Tuesday due to the risk of thunderstorms, hail and strong winds.

Most of the eastern region of Valencia, which is home to important tourism resorts such as Benidorm, were also on alert, along with parts of central Spain.

Experts said the torrential rains – which tend to trickle off instead of seeping into the ground – were insufficient to end the deficit in Spain’s water reservoirs.

Spain’s reservoirs, which store rainwater for use in drier months, were at just 47.5 percent of their capacity during the final week of May, down slightly from 47.7 percent during the previous week, according to environment ministry figures.

That is well below the ten-year average of around 68 percent.

Spain has registered the driest start to a year since records began, with less than half the average rainfall during the first four months of 2023, according to AEMET.

The government earlier this month approved measures worth more than two billion euros to alleviate the impact of the prolonged drought, especially on the agricultural sector.

READ ALSO: What is Spain’s ‘sea of plastic’ and does it affect UK food shortages?

Spain is the European Union’s biggest producer of fruit and vegetables, and the world’s biggest exporter of olives.