Portugal facing “worst weather conditions for 16 years”

The likelihood of forest fires in Portugal has not been higher for 16 years, reports Público today, and the prognosis is for even more hot dry weather through the first two weeks of August.

Talking at a press conference today (Tuesday) Civil Protection chief José Manuel Moura confirmed that Portugal’s “weather severity” index (used to describe risk conditions for forest fires) is higher now than it was during 2003, 2005 and 2013 – years considered catastrophic in terms of the areas burnt by wildfires that went totally out of control.

The problem, he explained, is that the country is currently in the position where a forest fire could attain “brutal force” in a matter of 20 minutes.

But there is some ‘good news’. So far this year, there has been no fire that could not be brought under control within 24 hours.

The worst has been a fire in Tomar (July 7) which resulted in 1580 hectares being burnt, and another in Sever do Vouga (April 2) which left 1574 hectares scarred.

The worry is that the hot, dry weather that so favours fires when combined with wind is set to stay, for the next two weeks at least.

According to Portugal’s sea and atmosphere authority IPMA, temperatures this weekend could rise to as high as 40ºC in some areas.

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