MADRID, Feb 8 — Spain last month experienced its warmest January since current records began in 1961, national weather office Aemet said on Wednesday, after temperatures neared 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.

The average temperature in mainland Spain in January 2024 was 8.4C, 2.4 degrees higher than average for the period and 0.4 degrees above the previous record set in 2016, Aemet said in a statement.

Temperatures reached or exceeded 20C at nearly 400 meteorological stations — almost half the country’s total — in January.

The mercury rose to 29.5C in the eastern region of Valencia, 28.5C in Murcia in the southeast and 27.8C near Malaga in the south — temperatures usually seen in June.

Advertisement

Last month’s unseasonably warm winter weather drew people to beaches and outdoor cafes across Spain, delayed the start of the ski season and worsened a years-long drought in Catalonia in the northeast and the southern region of Andalusia.

The regional government of Catalonia last week declared a drought emergency for Spain’s second city Barcelona and much of the surrounding region, paving the way for tighter water use restrictions following three years without significant rainfall.

Andalusia is also struggling with severe drought, with regional authorities there warning that water-use restrictions will be needed in Seville and Malaga this summer if rain does not return.

Advertisement

Andalusia and Catalonia are Spain’s two most populous regions. Both are preparing to import fresh water by boat if needed.

“We are facing a very complicated situation,” Agriculture Minister Luis Planas told reporters after news of the temperature record broke.

“Spaniards know very well that climate change is here,” he added.

While January “was a rainy month overall, the distribution of rainfall was very uneven: it rained the least where rainfall was needed the most”, said Aemet spokesman Ruben del Campo.

Experts say climate change driven by human activity is boosting the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires. — AFP