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Record temperatures in Europe in the middle of winter

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The Valencian Country exceeds 30 ºC and breaks the European record for January

The month of January ends with temperatures that seem like early spring or even summer. This Thursday, the maximums have reached unusual values ​​for this time of the year, especially in the Valencian Country, where they have exceeded 30 ºC in at least three towns. This figure is not only an absolute record in our country, but also at European level. If confirmed, it will surpass the previous record of 30.6°C set in Sicily in 1962.

The localities that have reached this historical milestone are Calles, in the Serrans region, and Gavarda, in Ribera Alta, with 30.7 ºC, according to data from the Valencian Meteorological Association. It has also reached 30.2 ºC in Anna, in the Canal de Navarrés, and 29.9 ºC in Canals and Guadasséquies. These temperatures are much higher than usual for this time of year, which are between 15 and 18 ºC.

In Catalonia, abnormal highs in Garrotxa and the high mountains

In Catalonia, temperatures have also been very high, but without reaching the records of the Valencian Country or the Catalan record for January, which was set in 2021 at the Observatory of the Ebre with 28.0 ºC. Even so, extreme highs have been recorded, such as 25.4 ºC in Anglès, 25.3 ºC in Vall d’en Bas and 25.2 ºC in Olot. These regions, such as Garrotxa, Gironès or Selva, have been the warmest, while in Terres de l’Ebre, where they were expected to peak, temperatures have been more moderate.

But if there is one place where the temperatures have been outrageous, it is the high mountains. The most prominent case is that of Vall de Núria, at almost 2,000 meters of altitude, where 16.7 ºC has been reached, breaking the record set in January 2022, which was 15.0 ºC. Very high values ​​have also been recorded in the Malniu shelter, at 2,230 meters, where 15.7 ºC has been reached. According to the Meteorological Service of Catalonia, monthly records have been broken in 21 of the 117 observatories with more than 20 years of data.

Climate change and fog, the causes of these extreme temperatures

These high temperatures in the middle of winter are the result of several factors, but the main one is climate change, which is causing a general rise in temperatures across the planet. In addition, the weather situation these days has favored the entry of warm and dry air from North Africa, which has raised the thermometer. This warm air has been trapped by a thermal inversion, which prevents it from cooling and mixing with the cold air in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

This thermal inversion has also caused the formation of fog in the shallow areas, which has acted as a shield that has prevented the sun from heating the surface. For this reason, temperatures have been much lower in these places, where the fog has persisted throughout the day. This thermal contrast has been very marked, and has led to differences of up to 15 ºC between nearby populations.

Back to normal from Friday

This episode of extreme temperatures will end from Friday, when a change in weather will occur that will bring a noticeable drop in temperatures, as well as precipitation and strong winds. It is an Atlantic squall that will cross the Iberian Peninsula and will leave a much more wintry atmosphere, with the possibility of snow at low altitudes. This will put an end to this thermal anomaly that has caused the month of January to end with record temperatures in Europe.

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