Spain's April heatwave: as temperatures peak, horses hit the trough
Spain's national weather service said temperatures would "reach values typical of summer" across most of the country, with a high of 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) forecast Thursday for the southern Guadalquivir Valley.
At three o'clock in the afternoon, in Cordoba, it was 38.7 degrees. In Seville, 37,8.
As people sweltered in a country experiencing a severe drought, Spanish media reported that the Health Ministry would consider implementing a heat prevention plan two weeks early to help regions respond to the effects of the unseasonably warm weather.
The State Meteorological Agency, which is known by the Spanish acronym AEMET, said temperatures were "exceptionally high" for April because of a mass of very warm and dry air coming from North Africa.
With a long weekend coming up, some people packed beaches along the coast. But residents who could not escape the heat in Spain's inland capital, Madrid, were less lucky. Loli Gutiérrez, 70, said she was worried about what conditions would be like when summer actually comes.
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"This is already unbearable. We are only in April. If this is happening in April, how is it going to be in June?" she said.
Last year was Spain's hottest since record-keeping started in 1961, and also the country's sixth driest despite the presence of the weather phenomenon La Niña, which slightly dampened global average temperatures.
Three years of scant rainfall and high temperatures put Spain officially into a long-term drought last month.
The Spanish government has requested emergency funds from the European Union to support farmers and ranchers in the country's agricultural heartlands, including the Guadalquivir Valley.
The world's biggest exporter of olive oil, Spain is also an important producer of fruits and vegetables for the European market. The drought has already driven up prices of Spanish olive oil to record levels.
Currently, 27% of Spanish territory is classified as in a drought "emergency" or "alert," according to the Ecological Transition Ministry, and water reserves are at 50% of capacity nationally.