Portugal faces severe drought after hottest May since 1931
Portugal has recorded its hottest May since 1931, with severe drought now affecting most of the country, the national meteorological office said Thursday.
ortugal has recorded its hottest May since 1931, with severe drought now affecting most of the country, the national meteorological office said Thursday.
“It was the hottest May in 92 years,” the Portuguese Sea and Atmosphere Institute (IPMA) said in its latest monthly climate bulletin.
The average top daily temperature was 25.87 degrees Celsius (78.57 degrees Fahrenheit), “the highest since 1931”, it said.
Rainfall in May was “much lower than normal”, amounting to just 13 percent of the average for May recorded between 1971 and 2000.
As a result, there was a “very significant spread of severe drought”, which has affected 97 percent of the country, the IPMA said.
By the end of May, 1.4 percent of the country was suffering “extreme drought”.
Scientists say repeated droughts are a sign of climate change.
They are expected to become even more frequent, more prolonged and more intense in the future.
“This deficit in rainfall that we are observing is in line with the trend of the last 20 years, marked by more frequent dry periods as a result of climate change,” Vanda Pires, a climatologist at IPMA, told AFP.
After a winter that was already the fourth hottest and fifth driest since 1931, Portugal’s summer looks “worrying”, she added.
From Friday the country is expected to experience “a sharp rise in temperatures”, which could reach 40 degrees Celsius, said Pires.
The civil protection authorities warned on Thursday of “an increased risk of fires” and mobilised some 5,000 staff for the weekend.