It may only be Spring, but temperatures in Spain this week are expected to hit 40C - heights usually reserved for summer. ITV News Health and Science Correspondent Martin Stew reports
Spain has declared its hottest day in April on record, with forecasters predicting the mercury could still hit 40C this week.
Scorching temperatures are expected between Wednesday and Friday, with temperatures soaring to highs normally seen in July.
On Thursday, a temperature of 38.7C in Cordoba, southern Spain, surpassed the previous record of 38.6C set in April 2011. The reading was also a European record for the month.
Experts say the heat will be around 15-20C higher than normal for April across the country.
The conditions will be at their most intense in the Guadalquivir Valley near Seville, a region that is often referred to as the "Iberian oven".
Spain has officially been placed into a long-term drought as concerns grow around the state of the nation's water reserves.
Spanish weather forecasters Aemet said: "Since Monday 24, a very warm and dry air mass has been entering, from North Africa, on the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.
"The presence of this warm mass, along with the conditions of atmospheric stability and the strong insolation, is causing a rise in the temperatures, which will continue for the next two days, reaching values typical of the summer and exceptionally high for dates."
The Spanish government has requested emergency funds from the European Union to support farmers, as a result of the record temperatures.
Spain received €64.5 million last year from the EU Common Agricultural Policy's crisis reserve to cope with the increased cost of raw materials - linked to Russia's invasion of Ukraine - but five consecutive years of drought in some regions have worsened an already difficult situation.
Currently, 27% of Spanish territory is classified as in drought "emergency" or "alert", according to the Ecological Transition Ministry, and water reserves are at 50% of capacity nationally.
In Spain's most important agricultural region, Andalusia, the situation is far worse.
The Guadalquivir River basin is at 24.8% of its capacity, and farmers in the region have had their water allowance for irrigation cut by up to 90% in some cases.
Spain is the world's biggest exporter of olive oil and an important producer of fruits and vegetables. The drought has already driven up Spanish olive oil prices to record levels.
The agriculture minister said he had also asked the EU to provide a higher advance payment ahead of the next season and urged "flexibility" in meeting the strict requirements of the bloc's agricultural policy. The government also announced a 1.8-billion-euro tax cut for affected farmers.
Last year was Spain’s sixth driest and the hottest since records began in 1961. Some farmers will not sow seeds at all for some crops this year, knowing the plants will simply shrivel in the fields.
Eduardo Vera Canuto, a rice farmer in Isla Mayor, in southern Seville province, said the situation was "alarming".
"We are not going to be able to sow rice. We have had five seasons, and this would be the sixth, with many difficulties. Last year we only sowed 30% of the land, because of the water we are entitled to," he said.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.