Minister José Luís Carbneiro says the situation is
Minister José Luís Carbneiro says the situation is "very worrying". Image: ANTÓNIO COTRIM/LUSA

First government statement following IPMA’s weather alert

Offers little in terms of ‘structural measures’ called for

Minister of Internal Administration José Luís Carneiro has been the first minister ‘off the blocks’ following IPMA’s weather alert earlier today, but his statement has offered little in terms of the structural measures IPMA president Miguel Miranda suggested are necessary.

In a ‘note’ sent to newsrooms today, he said: “”We are combining efforts to respond, to adapt. In relation to the peaks of heat like those we are having, the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection determined the constitution of 40 teams, more than 200 elements that are prepositioned in the territory to mobilize due to the high risk of fire”.

One of the most worrying indicators transmitted to ministers today is the accumulated ‘burned area’ already this year – which is above the average of the last 16 years (2006 to 2022), both in Portugal and in Austria, Ireland or Spain, says the note.

Equally, April was one of the 5th hottest since 1931 (92 years, or more to the point ‘since records began’). April registered:

– three heat waves, with temperatures exceeding 30ºC

– the hottest day in the last 16 years, “which represented a thermal anomaly at the surface”

– the most severe fire risk since 2003, “by a wide margin”.

With the sharp decrease in rainfall since January – in particular in the south –  “having  been almost nil in the month of February”, it can be seen that:

– the percentage of water in the soil is almost nil in several areas of Trás-os-Montes, the centre and south

– 89% of the mainland territory is at some level of drought

– 34% – meaning the Alentejo and the Algarve – registering a situation of severe and extreme drought.

This reality extends to countries like Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey, says the note, as well as several islands in the Mediterranean.

Latest data from IPMA, the Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere confirms the worst forecasts by pointing to a warmer than normal month of May with no rain – after months of above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall.

“People should go to the municipal councils, to the municipal civil protection services, they should go to the fire brigades and try to maintain clean-up works, always accompanied by municipal civil protection teams or firemen so that they can do it safeguarding their lives and assets,” says the Minister of Internal Administration also stressing that the legal deadline for such clean-ups has already passed.

This is a statement, but it does not constitute ‘structural measures’ to help citizens face the next few months which the IPMA president described today bas “a marathon” ahead of the country ‘not a sprint’.

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