The first heatwave of the summer has hit , pushing temperatures past 40C (104F) and prompting health warnings for locals and tourists alike as the country begins its August holiday.
Spain’s meteorological office, Aemet, said the hot spell would stretch from Wednesday to at least Sunday as a mass of hot air moved up from Africa. “The spell will be particularly intense and long-lasting in the south-west, the central area and the Ebro valley, with temperatures passing 40C from Wednesday,” it said in a statement.
The UK’s Met Office said that the “exceptional” temperatures in could surpass records in the coming days, warning British tourists heading south to prepare for extreme heat.
The , while the Spanish province of last year.
“[The] exceptional heat over the Iberian peninsula could have serious consequences on people there, and on transport, and on tourists who aren’t used to that heat – and of course locals won’t be used to these kinds of extreme – so certainly something to keep an eye on,” said Aidan McGivern of the Met Office.
The Madrid region has been put on orange alert, as has the nearby province of Toledo, the Extremadura region and parts of western Andalucía, including the provinces of Sevilla and Córdoba.
Aemet added that temperatures could climb as high as 42 to 44C on Thursday and Friday in some southern and central areas, while the southern part of the verdant and rainy north-western region of Galicia could see the mercury reach 41C towards the end of the week.
“Temperatures in the rest of the peninsula are likely to reach or pass 35C, except in the [northern region of] Cantabria and on parts of the Mediterranean coast. The heatwave will be less pronounced across a good part of the south-east, the west coast of Andalucía, the Canaries and [the Spanish North African enclaves of] Ceuta and Melilla,” it said.
The weather agency said that while things remained unpredictable, the country should see “a slow and progressive” dropping-off of temperatures from Saturday.
Spain’s , moderate their consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and to keep an eye on vulnerable members of the community such as children and elderly people.
Galicia’s instructed people to limit their physical activity during the hottest hours of the day, to wear loose clothing made from natural fibres and to slap on the sun cream. It also warned of the dangers of leaving babies or older people in locked cars during the heatwave.
The high temperatures come as taxi drivers in parts of Spain continued their strike in protest at the proliferation of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Cabify. The action, which has resulted in queues of taxis parked in main thoroughfares in Madrid and Barcelona, has seen reports of sporadic attacks on the so-called VTCs (tourism vehicles with chauffeur).
One such operator in Madrid said two of his cars had been targeted, while a spokesman for Spain’s national police force said three people had been arrested since Saturday.
He declined to comment on reports that police were investigating .
Groups representing taxi drivers are demanding that authorities properly enforce legislation that stipulates there should be 30 traditional taxis for each VTC. At the moment, the ratio is five to one.
Traditional taxi drivers say the new services constitute a threat to their livelihoods and have threatened to escalate their action, which has also brought disruption to Zaragoza, Málaga and Valencia. Meetings with the Spanish government this week have so far failed to bring an end to the strike, which coincides with the high tourist season.
Similar protests against Uber have been held in .