The keys to the June heat wave in five graphs

May already gave a first warning to Spain, with an episode of unusually high temperatures that was about to become the first heat wave outside of the summer season. Although it did not exceed the thresholds determined by the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) to consider it a wave, it did leave the warmest May day since there are records, made the month the hottest May of this century and confirmed that, year Every year, summer is harder and starts earlier as a result of climate change. Less than a month later, an early and harsh heat wave began on Saturday, the first of a meteorological summer that seasonal predictions already pointed to warmer than normal. Although it is not possible to take stock of an ongoing episode, this wave has already tied with the earliest that was reported. It does not seem that it will exceed the last precedent in intensity, the brutal wave that affected Spain in June 2019, but “this period will be among the three warmest since there are data,” says the spokesman for Aemet, Rubén del Campo.


Provinces with temperatures

above 40 degrees

Provinces with temperatures above 40 degrees

Provinces with temperatures above 40 degrees

“The temperatures of these days are not only anomalous for mid-June, but they would even be extreme if they had been measured in the heat of the heat,” explains Aemet. The maximum in most of the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands exceed 35°, which is between 7° and 12° above its normal average for this time of year. The dark red of 40° extends like an oil stain through the valleys of the country’s main rivers and next Friday more than a quarter of the provincial capitals will be able to exceed this level, such as Bilbao, Ciudad Real, Girona, Granada, Huesca, Jaén, Madrid, Murcia, Pamplona, ​​Toledo or Zaragoza. Even 43 ° are expected in Córdoba and Lleida. So far, the highest temperature recorded during the wave has been 43.2 ° on Sunday in Almadén (Ciudad Real).


Provinces with temperatures

minimum above 20 degrees

Provinces with minimum temperatures above 20 degrees

Provinces with minimum temperatures above 20 degrees

But if the days are heart-stopping, the nights are not far behind and are marking values ​​between 5° and 10° above what would be expected in mid-June. Much of the country is suffering from so-called tropical nights, in which thermometers do not drop below 20°, and even torrid or equatorial nights, where they rise above 25°. The highest minimum so far this episode was recorded in Osuna (Seville), 27.4 ° early on Monday. Last night, the highest minimum was scored by Castuera (Badajoz), with 26.4°, followed by Almadén (Ciudad Real) with 26°, and Trujillo (Cáceres) with 25.3°. They also suffered a torrid night in Cazorla (Jaén), and touched it in other Andalusian, Extremaduran and Castilian-La Mancha towns. This Wednesday night will probably be the worst, with torrid nights in central points such as Toledo or Madrid, and also in the south such as Jaén.


Heat waves in the peninsula

Without official data from the current episode, temperatures of up to 43 degrees have been recorded

maximum wave temperature

Highest max temperature (41.1º)

This is the earliest heat wave since 1981.

Heat waves in the peninsula

Without official data from the current episode, temperatures of up to 43 degrees have been recorded

maximum wave temperature

Highest max temperature (41.1º)

This is the earliest heat wave since 1981.

Heat waves in the peninsula since 1975

maximum wave temperature

Without official data from the current episode, temperatures of up to 43 degrees have been recorded

In 2017 the heat wave occurs with higher maximum temperature average, 41.1º

There has never been another heat wave this early since 1981

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From 1975 until now, when the unified Aemet data for all of Spain started, 65 heat waves have been recorded, the vast majority in July and August. That of August of last year is the most intense since there are records, that is, in which the highest maximum temperatures were reached. It had an anomaly of 4.1° ―the deviation between the temperature from which we can speak of a heat wave and the temperature reached― and in one of every five meteorological stations temperature records were broken. In addition, it was the third worst in terms of extension, affecting 36 provinces. The longest wave dates back to 2015: it lasted 26 days, while the longest wave was in August 2012, which affected 40 provinces.

In recent decades, heat waves are becoming more and more common in June. Since 1975, up to now there have been nine in the first month of summer and seven of them have been concentrated so far this century. “The waves have become five times more frequent in June in the 22 years that we have been in the 21st century,” warns the Aemet spokesman. Although climate change does not generate the waves, “it does change them, it makes them more intense, longer lasting, more frequent and earlier,” explains Aemet researcher Juan Jesús González Alemán.

This wave has become the earliest, tied with that of June 11, 1981, but it is being harder than that one. “Comparing both months, we see that June 1981 started cooler than the current one and that the hottest moment of that wave was less intense than that of the current heat wave”, explains Aemet. The second earliest wave, that of June 13, 2017, “had an equally less intense peak than the current one.”

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