Rain and cold in June: is Portugal a new version of the Midlands?
The last week of May and the first of June have seen appalling weather conditions in Portugal. In some days, Lisbon was among the very coldest capitals in Europe, way more chill than Oslo, for instance, which was reaching 30º C while the Portuguese capital would hardly get to 20º C. The situation turned Portuguese people somewhat desperate, as the people are very welcoming of their sunny conditions and can barely stand this “Midlands weather” so late in the Spring. What happened? Is this another sign of climate change?
Explaining the phenomenon
According to specialists from the IPMA (the Portuguese “Met Office”), the situation is caused by the placement of the Azores Higher into a southern position than usual, allowing storms and depressions from the North Atlantic to hit Portuguese mainland. At the same time, a southern flow from Africa is influencing weather throughout Europe, bringing warm air.
Climate change? Not really
Climate change is an undisputed phenomenon and is partially responsible for the conditions allowing the deadly wildfires that happened in Portugal in 2017. Especially regarding the October fires, that were related with hurricane Ophelia that, amazingly, turned Northeast into Europe instead of following the usual path to the Americas.
However, these annoying weather conditions can hardly be considered a sign of climate change. Even if the temperatures are clearly below the average for this time of the year, IPMA states (in an article of the Expresso newspaper) that “showers and temperature changes are typical of Spring”. Moreover, Spring is a period of changing patterns of air flows in the atmosphere before Summer settles in; the fact is the usual “empowerment” of the Azores High in late Spring is taking longer this year.
Portuguese weather isn’t going anywhere
For those considering any risk of Portugal becoming a colder and wetter country, remember that all scientific predictions of the last years are going in the opposite direction. Portugal is expected to get higher temperatures in the long run; droughts (like the very recent 2017 one!) and forest management are the primary concerns. Both Portuguese and expats will not lose their sun.