Heatwave in Spain to drive temperature above 40C in parts of country

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<span>Photograph: Paul White/AP</span>
Photograph: Paul White/AP

Through the second half of this week, heat has gradually built across Spain, encouraging temperatures to reach widely 35-40C. Across central and southern parts they are forecast to rise even further this weekend. On Saturday temperatures are expected to exceed 40C in places and it will be the joint earliest heatwave since records began, tied with a heatwave that started on 11 June 1981. Records such as this are commonplace now, and more will be broken for decades to come as our atmosphere continues to hold increasing amounts of heat.

In northern Africa and the Middle East, 50C is a common threshold to be broken during summer. However, this year the city of Al Jahra in Kuwait experienced this temperature threshold broken on 4 June – early compared with a normal year. The heat that has lingered across northern Africa throughout the week continued to bring temperatures into the low 50s celsius, and then pushed north into Spain through the latter half of this week. This is in large part due to a mass of very warm subtropical air, alongside high pressure centred over the Atlantic coinciding to allow for the warm air mass across Africa to be brought up on the southerly flow.

The remnants of the first hurricane of the season in the Pacific, Hurricane Agatha, which developed off the southern coast of Mexico at the end of May, has travelled more 5,000 miles (8,000km) in two weeks. After Agatha brought devastating floods to Mexico, the remnants pushed across into the Gulf of Mexico through last week where it strengthened into the first Atlantic storm of the season, Storm Alex. It in turn brought intense rainfall across Florida with flash flooding before moving out into the open Atlantic Ocean. The low pressure system associated with the remnants of Alex crossed the Atlantic this week and affected UK weather, bringing blustery winds and showers experienced across the UK on Friday.

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