May temperature records were broken on Friday (20th) in Spain, with average temperatures in some places 16 degress celcsius higher than normal for this time of year.
Spain’s national weather agency AEMET said that a record monthly temperature of 40 degrees celsius (104 Fahrenheit) was in the city of Jaen, Andalusia.
AEMET said that elsewhere in Spain, temperatures were at least 7C higher than usual.
“The early morning of May 21 was extraordinarily warm for the time of year in much of the centre and south of the peninsula,” AEMET said as it issued warnings of high temperatures in 10 Spanish regions for the weekend.
AEMET spokesperson Ruben del Campo said earlier this week that, if officially confirmed, it could be the first ever heatwave recorded in May.
“This episode is very unusual for mid-May and could be one of the most intense episodes in the last 20 years… what’s happening fits perfectly with a situation where you have a warmer planet,” he said, adding that the rise in temperatures was a “direct and palpable [consequence] of climate change … The climate in Spain isn’t the one we used to know. It’s got more extreme.”
On Friday, the mercury at Seville airport reached 41C, while another Andalucían city, Jaén, logged its first May temperature of more than 40C as the thermometers registered an unprecedented 40.3C – almost 2C above the previous record.
The city of Segovia, north-west of Madrid, also experienced its first “tropical” May night on Friday as temperatures remained above 20C.
Much of Spain is on yellow alert, meaning that while there is no “meteorological risk for the population”, some activities could be hazardous.
The Spanish government has activated its national plan for excess temperatures and is advising people to keep hydrated and wear light clothing. It also recommends that a close eye be kept on children, pregnant women and older and chronically ill people.
France has also been experiencing above-normal temperature for more than a month.
The state forecaster, Météo France, said such episodes of extreme heat were likely to become longer and more severe, start earlier and recur more frequently as global warming advances.