What is driving Spain's blistering April heatwave - and how long will it last?

A man reads a book in the shade in Madrid, Spain. Credit: AP

Spain is currently experiencing what could become its hottest April on record, with temperatures predicted to reach as high as 40C this week.

The balmy conditions, which are typically seen in the Spanish summer, have placed the country into a long-term drought status.

Meanwhile, in northern Europe, the UK has faced far damper conditions in March and April, with the former being the wettest England has endured for more than 40 years.

Here are the key questions answered around Spain's blistering hot spell and whether a similar trend could be on its way to British shores later this year.

What is causing the temperatures to climb?

High pressure has been situated over Spain for a while, importing warmer air from North Africa.

This, accompanied by being in drought conditions since last summer, means the dry ground is accelerating the air warming, and, in turn, the temperatures have been soaring.

How hot could it get?

It's possible that temperatures could reach near 40C on Friday or Saturday - breaking the current April record of 38.6C set in April 2011.

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Isn't it typically warm in southern Spain and Portugal?

It's not always warm in Spain.

Like the UK, there are defined seasons and the end or start of the year is characterised by modest temperatures - this time of year temperatures usually sit comfortably around 22-25C.

Although 40C isn't unheard of in the summer, it is forecast to be unseasonably hot in the next 48 hours - given how early in the year it is.

At this stage, it's looking to be the earliest 40C on record.

A couple rest by a fountain in Seville, Spain, amidst the scorching temperatures. Credit: AP

How long will the heatwave last?

It will be a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of heat.

The high pressure responsible for the rising temperatures gives way on Sunday, allowing a fresher, more typical, westerly airflow.

What are the knock-on effects of a heatwave?

This short-lived, but intense, heat will exacerbate the current drought conditions with the already desperately dry ground and a water shortage, meaning challenging conditions for farming and crops.

Hot weather always has a risk of health-related issues for the more vulnerable, but thankfully this unseasonable heat is brief.

Could we see an early heatwave in the UK too?

No. Although after a disappointing spring so far a little warmth would be welcome.

Sometimes we are influenced by hot weather in Europe, but not this time.

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