Spain melts in first heat wave in over 40 years

MADRID, June 13 (Reuters) – Fans, air conditioning, swimming pools, cold drinks or ice cream – all remedies were welcome in Spain on Monday as Spaniards weathered the first heat wave in more than 40 years.

A cloud of warm air from North Africa has pushed temperatures up, AEMET forecasters said, and the sweltering heat wave could last across most of Spain until the 16th or 17th June, a few days before the official start of summer on June 21.

With temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) in parts of central and southern Spain, the current heatwave is the oldest on record since 1981, according to national weather agency AEMET.

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People cycled through the fountains or stayed in the shade as temperatures soared.

But for some, it was normal work.

At Toto e Peppino, a famous Italian restaurant in Madrid, pizza maker Simone Roma, 19, worked in an oven.

“You work and you keep going out of passion and because it’s what we love to do. It runs through my veins, it’s my family,” he told Reuters.

“While extreme heat is not unheard of in June, the fact is that heat waves have become five times more frequent in the 21st century,” AEMET spokesman Ruben del Campo said on Monday.

The national meteorological agency also sent out a warning that the heat wave could be even worse across the country due to sand and dust in the air from the Sahara.

Popular tourist destinations such as Seville and Cordoba, in which exceeding 40C is not unusual during the summer months, are expected to reach up to 43C (109.4F) in the coming days with the capital of the country, Madrid, sweltering with 41°C on Monday.

Last year was marked by extreme temperatures in Spain, with snowstorm Filomena crippling the country in January with temperatures as low as -21°C (-5.8°F) as well as record-breaking heat waves in August.

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Reporting by Marco Trujillo, Emma Pinedo and Christina Thykjaer, Graham Keeley, Silvio Castellanos; Editing by Sandra Maler

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