The heat adds up and continues in Spain. The meteorological winter, which ended on February 28, has been classified by the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) as warm. It had an average temperature in mainland Spain of 7.4°, 0.8° above the average for the season, with the maximum 0.9° above and the minimum, 0.7°, which makes it the tenth warmest winter since the beginning of the series that serves as a reference and which starts in 1961 and the fifth of the 21st century, the agency certified this Friday at the press conference to take stock of the season. If you look back, you have to go back to the 2017-2018 season to find a cold winter, since the past was very warm, the previous one was warm despite Philomena, and that of 2019-2020, the warmest since there are records. The 2018-2019 season was also warm, the 2017-2018 season was cold, the 2016-2017 season was warm, the 2015-2016 season was very warm, and the 2014-2015 season was very cold.
“It is the first time that in Spain there have been five warm winters in a row since there are records,” says Rubén del Campo, spokesman for Aemet. As a consequence of climate change, the trend towards milder winters is clear. “Global warming is undoubted and unequivocal. Spain has warmed around 1.3° since the 1970s, but this warming is uneven in terms of seasons, more notable in summer, when it has been 0.27° per decade, 1.6° in six decades, while in winter it has been 0.16° per decade, around one degree since the sixties”, Del Campo contextualizes.
“The chances of cold snaps are now lower, they are clearly less frequent than in the sixties and seventies. This winter there have not been any, but global warming does not mean that there cannot be, as indeed there was after the storms Philomena in 2021 and after Gloria in 2020”, continues the meteorologist.
The worst of last winter was December, an “extremely hot” month, with a temperature 2.8° above average, making it the warmest since the start of the series. January and February, although they may have seemed cold in comparison, were actually normal. During the winter, Aemet points out, there were several warm episodes, the worst between December 6 and January 5, followed by February 14 to 22, both with maximum and minimum temperatures well above normal.
Although last season there were several cold episodes, none of them was a cold wave as they were not “intense or extensive or long-lasting enough,” says Del Campo. He highlighted the cold episode from January 18 to February 2, after the passage of the storms Gerard y Fien and the one from February 24 to 28, due to the storm Juliettewhich produced an inlet of very cold air of polar origin, in which the lowest temperatures of winter were recorded, with -15.8° in Molina de Aragón (Guadalajara), -11.6° in the port of Navacerrada, -9.6° in Soria and -9.0° in Teruel.
So far this year, Spain has already accumulated three records for hot days ―the day with the highest temperature compared to that of those same days of the same months since 1950―, on February 20, March 12 and March 13, something “unusual when the first quarter has not yet been completed”, while it has not broken any cold day record. In an unaltered climate, Del Campo recalls, the average is five records for hot days and another five for cold days each year. In 2022, the warmest year in Spain since there are records, there were 35 records for warm days and only two for cold ones. The positive part is that it has been a wet winter in terms of rainfall, but it was minimal, with an average of 194.5 liters per square meter, 3% above the normal value for the quarter. These rains have not managed to reverse the situation and Spain continues in a meteorological drought, with the northeast as the area most affected by the lack of rain.
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As for the seasonal forecast for spring, Aemet expects temperatures to be around average or warmer than normal. “That it is warmer is more likely in the east of the Peninsula and in the archipelagos,” points out Estrella Gutiérrez Marco, head of coordination of the territorial delegations. As for rainfall, it is likely that the rainfall will remain within the normal average, although on the Atlantic slope, that is, in much of the west and center of the Peninsula, it could be higher and on the Mediterranean and Balearic Islands, lower. More in the longer term, the first forecasts suggest that the summer will once again be warm. In rainfall, at the moment there is no clear trend. “We could have a difficult summer in terms of fires, adding heat and drought,” warns Del Campo.
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