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Valencia on red alert for heatwave

Source: El Pais - Thu 14th May 2015
Valencia on red alert for heatwave

The arrival of an area of low pressure into Galicia has lowered thermometers across much of Spain after the country suffered its hottest May day in 30 years on Wednesday.

The exception is the Valencia region, which on Thursday is expected to face the worst of the high temperatures that have been affecting the country since last Saturday.

The Aemet state weather agency has issued a red weather alert – the highest on the three-level scale – for Valencia province, warning that temperatures could reach 42ºC in coastal areas and 38ºC inland. The region's other two provinces, Alicante and Castellón, are on orange alert – the second-highest level – with temperatures of 39ºC expected.

Fifteen other provinces in eastern and southern Spain are also on alert. Orange warnings have been issued in Murcia, where 40ºC temperatures are forecast, as well as Gran Canaria (37ºC) and Tarragona (37ºC), with yellow alerts – the lowest level – elsewhere.

The whole of Catalonia is on some level of alert, with 36ºC temperatures predicted in Barcelona. In Andalusia, Almería, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga and Sevilla are also on yellow alert for temperatures expected to range between 36ºC and 40ºC. Temperatures of 34ºC are forecast on the Balearics Islands of Ibiza and Formentera and 36ºC on Mallorca.

On Wednesday afternoon a 32-year-old man died from heat stroke in Gévora, in western Badajoz province. The man suffered a dizzy spell while working in an area of isolated houses in the district, Extremadura emergency services reported.

The man was taken to hospital by ambulance but died several houses later. Aemet had issued a yellow warning for the Extremadura region, where temperatures in areas such as Castuera (Badajoz) reached 41.6ºC on Wednesday.

The unseasonal hot weather is the result of a body of hot, dry air moving in from Africa that will cause thermometers to rise "between seven and 15 degrees more than usual, practically across the entire Iberian peninsula," according Aemet spokeswoman Ana Casals.

Even so, the phenomenon cannot technically be described as a heatwave, because that requires three straight days of significantly above-average heat, Casals explains. This will only happen in the Canary Islands, where "there will be a heat wave between May 11 and 16."

Temperatures are predicted to drop notably in the northwest and across much of the country on Thursday, apart from on the Mediterranean coast and Balearics.

"Friday will be cooler, but by then temperatures will have risen so much that, even if they drop, they will remain high," she warns.

But the short respite will be followed by excessively hot weather again on Saturday and for much of next week.

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