Irish tourists are being warned that a Spanish heatwave could bring temperatures approaching 50C to parts of the country in the coming days.
Parts of Spain and southern France are already in the grip of a serious heatwave, with forecasters warning that “extreme” temperatures could be on the way by the end of the week.
It is the second major heatwave in Spain in a matter of weeks – even though the summer season in the country does not officially begin for another week.
Last month was the hottest May recorded in Spain in at least 100 years and the current heatwave is earliest to hit the country for 40 years.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Spain Correspondent Graham Keeley explained what is happening.
“It’s a cloud of hot air, essentially, from North Africa, from the Sahara, which has blown over Spain and parts of southern France,” he said. “Temperatures have already reached the early 40s in parts of southern Spain.
“What is alarming is that the forecasters here are saying we could see temperatures rising as high as 50C.
“What is exceptional about what is happening now is that it is happening before summer has even started officially. It starts officially on the 21st.
“So, this is the earliest heatwave for 40 years – since 1981. This is quite something.”
The heatwave is expected to last until the end of week searing heat during the day and temperatures remaining above 20 - 22C at night.
Mr Keeley said holidaymakers will need to take great care.
“People living in Ireland and elsewhere in northern Europe are not very well prepared I would suggest,” he said.
“To give you an example, I went to a place down the coast - a very popular adventure park - last weekend. Lots of people from Ireland or from Britain were there and can’t have been wearing any sun cream because they were as red as can be.
“That was before the heatwave so I wonder what it would be like if they were out now in the sea or just sitting on the beach.”
Forecasters are warning that the increasing number of heatwaves that hit Spain every year are due to climate change.
Spain has experienced four extreme heat episodes in the last ten months alone – with average temperatures in the country rising 1.7C since the industrial revolution.
Mr Keely said the latest heatwave has already claimed its first life.
“You are looking at serious problems because yesterday, sadly, a man died while he was out walking in the hills of Almeria in the south of Spain.
“The Government has warned against undertaking any exercise at the moment, hydrating properly and also staying in the shade.”
You can listen back here.