The record was one of scores set in the broader region since the middle of last week. In addition to Spain, punishing heat scorched portions of Portugal, Italy, Morocco and Algeria. Notably, the temperature in Syracuse, Sicily, skyrocketed to 120 degrees Wednesday, potentially setting a new all-time heat record for all of Europe.
Other notable records in the region set in recent days include:
- Agadir Airport in southwest Morocco soared to 120.4 degrees Monday, the country’s highest temperature on record during August, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist and expert on world weather records.
- Madrid tied its all-time high (for any month) on Saturday, soaring to 105.3 degrees, while establishing a new August record, according to Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist with Meteo France, France’s meteorological agency.
- Cordoba, Spain, tied its all-time high (for any month) Saturday, soaring to 116.4 degrees, while establishing a new August record, according to Kapikian.
The excessive heat is linked to an intense zone of high pressure or heat dome sprawled over the region for the past five to six days. Parked over the Mediterranean initially, it has drifted southwest and is now centered just west of Morocco. The heat dome reached historically intense levels Friday into the weekend.
At the height of the heat wave on Saturday, 16 cities in Italy and 14 districts in Portugal were put under a red alert due to the dangerously high temperatures, according to the Associated Press.
The extreme heat increased the wildfire risk over the region and may have intensified ongoing blazes in Italy, Turkey, Greece and Algeria, the AP reported.
The record-setting temperatures hit the same week that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its landmark report warning that these extreme events are expected to become more frequent and intense as global temperature rise due to the burning of fossil fuels.
“A warmer planet makes it easier to break extreme heat thresholds,” tweeted Scott Duncan, a meteorologist based in London. “This is what we are seeing continually all over the globe.”
The heat dome responsible for the blistering temperatures is forecast to drift further offshore Africa in the coming days, allowing temperatures to moderate closer to seasonal norms by the middle of the week.