Drought worsens in April, almost 90% of territory affected

… but still no ‘restrictions’ on water usage

Portugal’s meteorological drought worsened in April, with 89% of the territory now affected, 34% of which either severely or extremely , according to IPMA, the Institute of Sea and Atmosphere.

This means that in the space of one month, the area in drought almost doubled compared to March, when it was 48%.

According to IPMA’s latest climatological bulletin , at the end of April, there was a significant increase in the area and intensity of meteorological drought, highlighting the Northeast region in the moderate drought class and in the southern region the districts of Setúbal, Évora, Beja and Faro in the severe to extreme drought classes.

At the end of last month, 33.2% of the territory was in moderate drought, 22% in weak drought, 19.9% in severe drought, 14.1% in extreme drought and 10.8% normal.

In April last year, the entire territory of mainland Portugal was in a drought situation, but most of it was moderate (87.2%).

The institute classifies the meteorological index of drought into nine classes, ranging from “extreme rainfall” to “extreme drought”.

According to the IPMA, there are four types of drought: meteorological, agricultural, hydrological and socioeconomic.

Data from the bulletin indicates that in the month of April, the total precipitation (18.2 millimetres) was much lower than the average value (23%) and was the 3rd driest April since 1931.

Regarding the percentage of water in the soil, the institute says there was “a very significant decrease in the percentage throughout the territory”.

Regions of Nordeste Transmontano, the Tejo Valley, Baixo Alentejo and Algarve recorded values of percentage of water in the soil below 10%.

IPMA also says in the bulletin that the month of April was classified as very hot in terms of air temperature and extremely dry in terms of precipitation.

April was the 4th warmest April since 1931 (the warmest was in 1945), with three heat waves recorded in mainland Portugal, affecting the regions of the North and Centre interior, Tejo Valley, Alentejo and Eastern Algarve.

Other southern European countries are equally affected by drought this year – but contrary to what is (not) happening in Portugal, they are actioning concrete measures to conserve water. In France, for example, it is already prohibited to wash cars, water gardens and fill swimming pools. For more on Portugal’s apparent reluctance to be pro-active, see our print edition out tomorrow.