Spain could experience its hottest ever day for the month of April this week with forecasters predicting temperatures of up to 40C (104F).
Record-breaking temperatures are expected between Wednesday and Friday with temperatures reaching levels normally seen in July.
The extreme conditions will follow the driest March in 20 years in some areas which has increased growing concerns about the nation’s water reserves and officially placed Spain into long-term drought.
Reservoirs are around 15% below average levels with some shrinking to just 26% of capacity, while the dry conditions are raising fears about the outbreak of more wildfires with summer approaching.
Spain’s state meteorological agency Aemet said there will be a “progressive entry of a very warm and dry air mass of African origin” causing “values typical of summer”.
Aemet said temperatures in the Guadalquivir valley in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, which is home to cities such as Seville, “could even reach 40C” on Thursday or Friday.
The agency said temperatures are expected to drop on Sunday and Monday, “ending this episode of exceptionally high temperatures for the time of year”.
The top temperature ever recorded in Spain for April was 37.4C (99.3F) in Murcia in the southeastern part of the country in 2011.
Temperatures above 30C (86F) are expected across much of southern Spain on Wednesday before continuing to rise.
Residents are being urged to think about how they use water supplies as drought conditions continue to grip Spain despite recent cold and wet conditions for many other parts of Europe.
Agriculture has also been badly hit with crops struggling in the hot and dry conditions.
Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned of the continuing “challenge” his country faces from the impact of climate change.
“The government of Spain and I are aware that the debate surrounding drought is going to be one of the central political and territorial debates of our country over the coming years,” he said.
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Spain has seen low rainfall and high temperatures for three years, with 2022 being its hottest on record and with the Mediterranean warming faster than the global average due to climate change.
Last summer, firefighters struggled to contain wildfires in June as temperatures exceeded 40C (104F) amid weather conditions usually expected in August.
Temperatures continued to soar through the summer, passing 45C (113F) amid extreme conditions which led to many deaths and increased the pressure on emergency services.
In 2021, the dangerous levels of heat saw Spain swelter in temperatures above 47C (116.6F) as heatwave conditions gripped southern Europe.