As reported by ElTiempo.es on February 27th, 2023, Spain is experiencing extremely cold temperatures, with a winter episode that has not yet reached its peak. The minimum temperatures will continue to be in the double digits below zero this week, and warnings have been activated for these low temperatures.
Yesterday, thermometers in mountainous areas recorded temperatures as low as -18ºC. The cold front from the northeast, pushed by Storm Juliette -the tenth named storm of the season- has made its presence felt, with temperatures dropping below -15ºC at higher elevations.
Not only have minimum temperatures been extremely low in mountainous areas, but the cold is also being amplified by the wind, causing the sensation of even colder temperatures. The thermal sensation has been truly harsh in various parts of the country, with wind chills making it feel like temperatures are below -10°C and even -20°C.
While the temperatures are record-breaking for this time of year in many parts of Spain, this episode of cold weather has not yet been officially named as a “cold wave.” Therefore, we cannot say that we are experiencing the first cold wave of 2023.
However, the current weather forecast for this winter episode does not rule out the possibility that, in retrospect, it could fulfill the criteria for a cold wave in Spain, which is defined as at least three consecutive days when at least 10% of the stations considered record minimum temperatures below the 5th percentile of their daily minimum temperature series for the months of January and February in the period 1971-2000.
It is important to take precautions during these extreme weather conditions. Some recommendations include:
- Staying warm: Dressing in warm, layered clothing, wearing hats, gloves, and scarves. Using the “onion method” of layering clothes and removing them as needed when entering or leaving buildings. If you get wet, change into dry clothes immediately.
- Avoiding exposure to cold: Limiting the amount of time spent outdoors in extreme cold conditions and avoiding outdoor activities if they are not necessary.
- Protecting your skin: Applying moisturizer to prevent dry and cracked skin.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking hot liquids and staying hydrated to avoid dehydration.
- Protecting your home: In areas with a high risk of snow, keeping windows and doors closed, using sealants to keep the cold out, and ensuring that pipes are well insulated to prevent freezing. Maintaining roofs and cornices in good condition.
- Being careful when using stoves or coal braziers inside the house: If heat is needed, it is better to use electric or gas heaters.
- Being prepared for emergencies: Maintaining an emergency kit with non-perishable foods, water, medications, and other important supplies, especially if traveling on the road.
- Being careful when driving: Staying informed about road conditions and avoiding driving on roads affected by cold or snow as much as possible. The first and last hour of the day is usually the most difficult due to the ice on the road.
- Paying attention to warnings: Staying informed about weather conditions and following the instructions of local authorities and civil protection.
Lastly, it is important to remember that extreme cold and frost can be dangerous, especially for the most vulnerable population, such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health problems. If you experience symptoms of hypothermia, such as shivering, confusion, debilitation, or reduced motor coordination, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.