24C in Spain, 15C in the Alps: end of 2021 strangely hot in parts of Europe | Spain
Spain has seen record temperatures this week and regions of the Italian Alps are expected to reach up to 15 ° C above the seasonal average in the coming days as much of Europe experiences an unusually warm start for the new Year.
In Bilbao, in northern Spain, temperatures reached 24.7 ° C, a high not seen since records began in 1947. In Segovia, near Madrid, 22.7 ° C were recorded, the highest since 1920, and nearby Avila hit 20.2 ° C, its highest since 1983.
“These high temperatures are not normal,” said Rubén del Campo, spokesman for the state meteorological agency AEMET. “These are temperatures you would normally see in April.”
He attributed the end-of-year heat to a mass of hot air over Spain combined with high pressure. “It is a normal phenomenon that we are seeing, but what is strange this time is the high temperatures that we are seeing.”
Scientists have long predicted that the climate crisis and global warming would result in more frequent extreme weather conditions, although random extreme events naturally occur.
The high pressure zone has moved towards France and Italy, and Alpine rescuers have warned of the risk of avalanches.
Luca Mercalli, a meteorologist, said: “At the moment it is around 15 ° C in the regions of the Alps at an altitude of 1,600 meters and does not reach zero below 4,000 meters. not frozen at night – the temperature did not drop below 10 degrees, and this is very unusual.
Temperatures at some of Italy’s best-known ski resorts, including Cortina d’Ampezzo and Courmayeur, are expected to be 13-15 ° C above seasonal normal on New Years Day, and mild weather is expected to persist until to January 3.
Ski resorts up to 2000 meters above sea level are devoid of snow. “And they can’t produce artificial snow because the temperature is too hot,” said Mercalli.
The Italian Alpine Rescue Service has advised skiers to regularly check weather reports due to the risk of avalanches. “The high temperature combined with strong winds create conditions conducive to avalanches,” said Mercalli.
The rest of Italy is also experiencing unusually warm conditions, with a high of 18C expected in Rome on Saturday and 22C in the Sicilian city of Catania by the middle of next week.
In Spain, high temperatures cap a year that began with a deadly snowstorm that blanketed much of the country with snow and brought Madrid to a halt.
“It has been a year of extremes,” said Del Campo. The snowstorm left some municipalities struggling with temperatures as low as -25 ° C, while days later the coastal city of Alicante hit 30 ° C.
“We never saw -25 and almost 30C in the same month,” Del Campo said. “It’s not something we’ve ever seen in Spain.”
Italy also experienced extreme weather events in 2021, Syracuse in Sicily is said to have broken the European record for the highest temperature, reaching 48.8 ° C in August.