A taste of summer for parts of Spain and Italy

  • A sunset picture. Photo: PA Wire

    Parched land. Photo: PA Wire

  • A taste of summer for parts of Spain and Italy
    12.03.2017 19:19

    Last Friday, 10th March, parts of Spain and Italy experienced extremely high temperature associated with very low values of relative humidity. Temperatures almost reached 35C in Spain in Alicante, while in Italy the relative humidity 4% beating previous records.

    Here in the UK spring finally arrived with 18C recorded last Thursday at St. James’s Park, Greater London. However, countries like Spain and Italy saw temperatures more like a day in July than just spring. In particular, the highest temperatures were reached in south-eastern areas of Spain like 34.8C in Alicante, 33.6C in Murcia and 31.7C in Jativa, but many other locations went beyond the threshold of 30C, beating previous records.

    The unusual weather condition was due to a cell of high pressure over western Europe together with a rise of an hot air mass from North Africa. As the winds last Friday were light, coming from a north-westerly direction, south-eastern areas were heated up by descending from the mountains due to the Foehn effect, which consist in the heating of an air mass when it drops of altitude.

    The Foehn effect not only allows temperature to increase due to the descending air mass, but also to lose its water content. This explains the extremely low values of relative humidity (RH) recorded in Spain and Italy. Over north-west Italy, last Friday extremely low values of relative humidity were reached, with temperatures well above the March average. In this case the Alps created the perfect element for a significant Foehn effect, thanks to the north-westerly wind direction, giving dry conditions across north-west Italy, which has already seen above dry conditions for this year. This particular situation caused widespread values of less than 10% of RH and temperature that reached values of 26-27C in Liguria region with 4% of RH, a percentage typically found in a desert. 

    Since Friday, the weather has already changed over Italy where temperatures are dropping thanks to colder north-easterly winds, and the forecast for Spain looks unsettled, with a low pressure system expected to bring heavy spells of rain and showers by Sunday with a drop in temperatures.

    By: Alessio Martini