Portugal and Spain swelter in near-record heat

Saul Bowman
August 7, 2018

Spain and Portugal continued to suffer from high temperatures on Sunday, with firefighters from both countries battling a forest fire near their shared border.

"Even if they don't reach the 48 [degrees Celsius], they could break their own individual records as a country as well", she said.

Portugal has issued red alerts for extreme heat for more than half the country, with thermometers approaching 46C (114.8F).

The current European record of about 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius), which was registered in Athens during the summer of 1977, could be broken in the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal, said Becky Mitchell, a meteorologist with the national weather service in the United Kingdom (U.K.).

Eight places in Portugal broke local temperature records on Thursday, with the high peaking at 47 C in some places.

The rest of Spain, including the normally wet and temperate northwestern region of Galicia, was also punished by the sun and heat.

Portugal sees large wildfires every year, although unseasonably cool weather through the end of July has meant fewer blazes in 2017. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the record for Spain is now 47.3 Celsius, while for Portugal it's 47.4 Celsius.

The extremely high temperatures, caused by an influx of hot air from Africa, were also carrying loads of dust from the Sahara Desert.

Although nowhere near the roasting conditions in southern Europe, the Met Office is still urging people to stay sun sensible - drink lots of water and stay out of the sun in the hottest part of the day.

The hot, dry weather led to several Portuguese wildfires.

Some places in Sweden have had their driest May-to-July period on record, according to its meteorological agency, and a number of weather stations have recorded only 10% to 15% of their normal rainfall.

The Scandinavian country has over the past weeks had dozens of wildfires, mostly in central, western and northern Sweden, and foreign firefighters helped their Swedish colleagues. "The forecast is that the south peak will be lower than the north peak from the beginning of August".

Although the three-month outlook does not suggest the hot weather will last that long, it may be "warmer than average", according to Met Office forecaster Bonnie Diamond. By Tuesday, the temperature is expected to drop below 40C.

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