Wildfire risk increasing across Spain, Portugal

20 July 2020

Published by https://news.yahoo.com

SPAIN/PORTUGAL – A wet spring may have held off the start to the wildfire season across the Iberian Peninsula, but persistent heat and dry weather during the start of July has increased the threat for fires across the region.

Sweltering temperatures are expected across Portugal and parts of western Spain again on Monday as afternoon temperatures climb above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) in most areas. High temperatures above 38 C (100 F) will be common in far eastern Portugal and central Spain to start the week.

On Tuesday, a storm system will move over the Iberian Peninsula, increasing clouds across the region.

“This system will help lower temperatures by a few degrees in some locations, but still no precipitation is expected across Portugal and the hottest parts of Spain,” stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

A few showers and thunderstorms, mainly located in northern and eastern Spain will help to cool down the area further.

But most of Portugal and western Spain can still expect above-normal temperatures. The normal high temperatures for the middle of July range from the 23-26 C (75-79 F) near the coast for Portugal to the 29-31 C (84-87 F) across central Spain.

“On Wednesday, the temperatures climb from summertime heat back towards sweltering,” added Roys. “This trend will continue into Thursday ahead of the next storm system approaching the area.”

Widespread lower to middle 30s C (90s F) will return on Wednesday, with 38 C and above (100 F and above) becoming common in southern Spain on Thursday.

By the end of the week a cold front is forecast to sweep through southwestern Europe. Most precipitation from this feature will be largely limited to northern Spain and France; however, the arrival of cooler air will once again help to break the heat wave.

According to Roys, Friday will feel great as temperatures are expected to be roughly 9-10 degrees C (16-18 degrees F) lower compared to Thursday. Many areas back to near normal.

“Dry and hot weather is not unusual for July across the Iberian Peninsula,” said Roys. “The increased threat for wildfires is also common during this time of year.”

However, this year a few factors have helped to increase the risk for wildfires to above-normal levels.

“Much of Spain and Portugal saw 150-400% of normal rainfall during the springtime, largely March and April,” said Roys.

This amount of rainfall allowed vegetation to flourish across the region.

“While the rain was beneficial at holding off the start of wildfire season, it could actually make wildfire season worse with more brush to fuel any fires that spark,” he added.

Temperatures have been well above normal across parts of the Iberian Peninsula throughout much of July. In Lisbon, Portugal, the typical average temperature for the month is 24.9 C (76.8 F), but so far the average temperature has been running about 13 degrees C (7 degrees F) above the typical temperature.

In Madrid, Spain, the average temperature for the month has been running about 14 degrees C (8 degrees F) above the normal monthly average of 27.4 C (81.4 F).

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