As the nation braces itself for its first heatwave of 2019 with temperatures of over 40ºC in the shade expected from Wednesday onwards, at least Spain’s residents and visitors can take comfort from the fact they will not have to deal with extremes such as those reported in The New York Times exactly 84 years ago.
A year before Spain’s Civil War broke out, the mercury shot up to nearly 53ºC in Zaragoza, Aragón – leading today’s residents to wonder what it would have been like in the traditionally much hotter parts of the country, such as the south and the Mediterranean coast.
According to the news-in-brief article in The New York Times on June 23, 1935: “The temperature reached 127 degrees Fahrenheit [52.8ºC] today and many persons were prostrated.
“The Fifth Army Division, quartered here [in Zaragoza], evacuated its barracks because of the intense heat and set up a camp on the outskirts of the city.”
But the forecast for the rest of the week from Wednesday – and possibly the early part of next week – is quite hot enough without scaling the heights the thermometer soared to 84 years ago.
State meteorological agency AEMET says: “It will exceed 35ºC in large swathes of the mainland in inland areas, and it is even possible that the temperature will rise above 40ºC in the centre, inland parts of the southern half and the north-west quarter.
“In coastal areas, due to the sea influence, temperatures will not reach such high figures.”
AEMET says the Ebro, Tajo, Guadiana and Guadalquivir valleys will be the hardest-hit, with temperatures of ‘at least’ 42ºC expected over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“Minimum temperatures will also be significantly high, remaining above 20ºC in large areas, and may not even drop below 25ºC in the centre and the southern half in landlocked parts, as well as in the Ebro valley and Mediterranean area,” according to AEMET.
Daytime figures will certainly be above 35ºC in inland parts of the islands, too, although the northern regions of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria may not be affected by such high night-time temperatures.
The result of a wave of hot air travelling upwards from the African continent, the intense heat will ‘probably persist’ until ‘at least Sunday, June 30’, AEMET reports, adding that it ‘would not rule out’ that the heatwave may continue into ‘the first few days of July in some parts of the country’.
“Due to the intensity and length of time involved, this episode qualifies as a ‘heatwave’, and the corresponding weather alerts will be issued in the next day or two,” the Met office concludes.