Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Heat, drought and wildfires: torrential rains plague Portugal

LISBON, Portugal ( Associated Press) – Portugal is facing a heat wave, with temperatures in some regions forecast to climb as high as 43 C (109 F) this weekend, as the country grapples with a severe drought.

The Civil Protection Agency, a Portuguese government body that coordinates official responses to emergencies, said on Thursday it was putting staff on high alert because of the risk of wildfire. Officials say nearly a third of the country is at high risk of wildfires.

The high temperature is expected to last for at least a week. The National Weather Service (IPMA) calls these “tropical nights” when temperatures remain above 20 C (68 F) after sunset, likely.

The hot spell comes as Portugal grapples with drought. At the end of June, 96% of the country was classified as “extreme” or “severe” drought – the two highest categories.

The weather service says rainfall in the nine months since last October was more than half the period’s average and was the second lowest since 1931, when reliable national records began.

Heat waves and drought are not uncommon in Portugal, but climate scientists say one can expect higher temperatures and less rainfall across southern Europe as a result of global warming.

The continent faces one of its toughest years when it comes to natural disasters such as drought and wildfires due to climate change, as the Mediterranean is facing extremely dry weather, the EU executive said on Thursday.

June was also very dry in Spain, which is Portugal’s neighbor on the Iberian Peninsula, raining nearly half the 30-year average and water reservoir capacity 45% – 20 percent below the 10-year average, according to government data. ,

Italy recently endured a protracted heat wave and is facing its worst drought in 70 years.


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