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A new heat wave began to hit Spain, Portugal and France on Monday, countries where this episode should probably reach its peak “between Saturday and Tuesday”, according to Météo-France.
Less than a month after the previous heat wave, the mercury was already rising on Monday July 11 to exceptionally high levels in the Iberian Peninsula, where the thermometer exceeded 42 degrees, and in the south of France.
The multiplication of these phenomena is a direct consequence of global warming, explain the scientists, greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in intensity, duration and frequency.
In Spain, a high of 43.3 degrees was recorded in Candeleda as of 6:10 p.m. (4:10 p.m. GMT), according to Spanish weather agency Aemet. The 42 degrees were achieved in other southern or central cities, such as Seville and Badajoz.
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This new heat wave, the second in a month after that of mid-June, is “quite exceptional” in a country yet accustomed to high temperatures in summer, said Monday Rubén del Campo, the spokesperson of the Aemet.
It said on Sunday and could “last nine or ten days, which would earn it one of the three longest heat waves Spain has had since 1975,” he told AFP.
In Spain, five episodes of exceptionally high temperatures in 11 months
“Climate change causing more severe heat waves and making them more intense,” continued Rubén del Campo, recalling that the number of these episodes has doubled in the last twelve years in his country.
The worst is to come between Tuesday and Thursday, according to Aemet, which is however unable to say whether the absolute temperature record recorded in Spain (47.4 degrees in Montoro, near Cordoba, in August 2021) , could be beaten.
Including the current heat wave, Spain has experienced five episodes of exceptionally high temperatures over the past 11 months. The month of May had notably been the hottest there since the beginning of the century.
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In addition to the heat, Spain has suffered from a severe lack of precipitation since this winter. As a result, the level of water reservoirs was Monday at 45.3% of their total capacity, against an average of 65.7% over this period over the past ten years, underline the authorities.
In neighboring Portugal, the thermometer soared to 44 degrees in some areas over the weekend. And if the temperatures fell slightly on Monday, 42 degrees were however expected in the Evora region, according to the national meteorological agency, which forecasts a new rebound on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Temperatures that could reach 39 degrees in France
This heat wave has fanned several fires in the center of this country in recent days. The largest outbreak, which broke out on Thursday in the town of Ourém, was contained on Monday after ravaging around 2,000 hectares of vegetation and mobilizing some 600 firefighters.
But the situation remains “serious and exceptional”, warned the National Civil Protection Commander, André Fernandes, while Prime Minister Antonio Costa warned of a “maximum risk” in the coming days. “The slightest inattention can cause a fire of significant proportions,” he said.
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This heat wave also settled in France on Monday from the South-West regions, Météo-France said on Monday. Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees over a large part of French territory and could reach 39 degrees locally on Tuesday.
This episode is likely to peak “between Saturday [16 juillet, NDLR] and Tuesday” July 19, specified Sébastien Léas, of Météo-France, while noting that it was too early to evoke a phenomenon which could become comparable to the deadly heat wave of the summer of 2003.
In the United Kingdom, where temperatures were expected to reach 33 degrees on Monday and Tuesday in the South West, the national meteorological service for its part issued an orange alert on Monday before a wave of “extreme heat” from Sunday with temperatures can exceed 35 degrees.