The asphalt spits fire, the sidewalk burns and the people of Bilbao look for shady oases. The predictions of the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) have come true this Wednesday and the Basque Country, which had a red warning due to high temperatures in the interior of Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa, has remained at the gates of 40 degrees. In Bilbao, more accustomed to rain and mild temperatures, the carousel of caps, hats and pamelas that protect the heads of daring walkers, often carrying slushies, water or soft drinks, confirms the prediction, which has been two tenths of being fulfilled, at 39.8° according to the airport weather station. The sun is relentless, intensified by the humidity, and the options to withstand the heat wave are reduced to going to the sea or cooling off in the springs.
At the Guggenheim Museum, tourists take shelter under the shade of the flowery giant dog Puppy, the umbrellas emerge against the light and not against the rain, and the kids enjoy themselves under some sprays at the foot of the art gallery. Dozens of children run through the water of a fountain that is ideal for torrid days and that is activated every summer. Juan Pichardo and Teresa Díaz, 65 and 66, keep an eye on their grandchildren and appreciate the splashes from their games. “It’s cool here and they have fun,” they say, equipped with swimsuits and towels. The Englishman Maxwell Ross, 10 years old and just got off the plane from London, doesn’t care about soaking his shirt, pants and shoes to escape from the Basque hell. His father, Simon Cooper, 58, sweats profusely as his face turns red. “I did not expect such strong heat in the north of Spain,” he says. Nor is his partner, Olya, of Serbian origin, who responds with a “Wow!” to the news of the red alert for high temperatures. She takes it better, but he has been beaten.
“I haven’t known the cool and rainy summers that my parents say, global warming is taking its toll,” explains Iñaki Arrieta, 14, on the Sopelana beach. The high temperatures have changed the holidays of Maite and Pedro, two people from Bilbao who tell how before they tended to “go south” in search of heat, “and now it’s the other way around: people come here”, they comment, since the last few summers They have been hot and they are not bringing rainfall, beyond some sirimiri. The Cantabrian breeze lowers hot flashes under the gale alert: a huge drop in temperature and unbridled wind in just minutes at the end of the afternoon.
Abandoibarra Fountain in Bilbao, on Wednesday, August 9, 2023. Fernando Domingo-Aldama
The north of Spain has experienced very exceptional temperatures this Wednesday. Not only in the Basque Country, where 56 people have had to be treated due to the episode of high temperatures, but also in places like the north of Burgos, where the record for the area of 40.1° has been recorded in Medina del Pomar . The thermometer in the central Plaza de Moyúa marks 36° at 12:21, 41° at 2:01 pm and 45° at 3:35 pm. The mercury suffers the solar ravages while another thermometer, in the benevolent shadow, leaves the suffocation in the 40 that Aemet had predicted would be reached in Bilbao. Margarita Martín, Basque delegate of the meteorological agency, warns: “The southeast wind causes temperatures to rise and there may be gales or gale at the last minute.”
Some trees in the square shelter a Paraguayan family waiting for the bus to the beach. Alexis López and Princesa Escurra, aged 25 and 26, have been in the city for several years and have prepared a blue fridge for the day. “Oranges, apples, juices, water, sodas and pasties”, they enumerate along with their unruly nephews, equipped with buckets and rakes. “I’m terrible, I miss the chill!” Escurra laments, while her cousin Claudia López, 22 and recently arrived from Madrid, where there is also a red warning for high temperatures this Wednesday, smiles condescendingly: they are going to talk to she’s hot The streets feel empty but the workers are still there. The workers Nacho Tinto and Odei Morillas, aged 44 and 27, gasp after their first shift. “The heat that it is is not normal! They have been hitting 40 ° for a couple of summers, ”says the first, fed up with his strong boots and long uniform.
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