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European drought
The impact of the ongoing dry weather
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2012 10:59
The Cavera's resevoir near Palencia in Spain. Farmers are on drought alert following the driest winter in 70 years. [AFP]

While much of eastern Europe slowly recovers from one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record, western parts have been struggling to cope with a marked lack of rain or snow.

To make matters worse, we have also seen summer-like temperatures spread across those western areas. This has created an ideal breeding ground for the wildfires that are now causing problems across Spain, Portugal, France and even some parts of the UK.

This March has seen dozens of temperature records broken across the UK. Even Scotland has experienced some unusually warm weather.

Edinburgh had a top temperature of 18C and Glasgow peaked at 17C this month, breaking records that have stood for 39 years. Aboyne in Aberdeenshire eclipsed them both with a high of 24C which marks a new all-time high in Scotland for March.

Northern England also basked in the warm, spring sunshine this week with 22C being recorded from Lancashire to Yorkshire on Tuesday. Newcastle reached 21C whilst in the south, London struggled, if I can call it that, to reach 20C.

As lovely as it is to get such fabulous weather (at least in the eyes of the majority), the dry conditions have inevitably depleted river levels and underground supplies. The Environment Agency has already declared a drought across East Anglia and the Southeast. Seven water companies in those areas are set to impose hosepipe bans on 5 April. 

Parts of Yorkshire have also been declared to be in drought. As yet, there are no plans for any hosepipe bans here.

Grassland fires have inevitably been a problem. Firefighters had to tackle blazes in North Yorkshire, south Wales, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders on Monday and Tuesday.

Southern and western France has also been battling against wildfires recently, but worst hit, so far, appears to be northern and western Spain.

Over 500 firefighters backed by planes and helicopters battled 15 wildfires on Wednesday alone in the northern Cantabria Region. The area has suffered over 150 wildfires since Friday which have so far burned over 650 hectares.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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