By Humphrey Carter
WE have all been expecting it, and here it comes, the first heatwave of the summer in the Balearics will hit home today and last until at least Sunday.

Earlier this month the Balearic Met office warned of the rest of the summer being dogged by mini heatwaves lasting three or four days, and this morning we will be met by a hot air coming off the Sahara and high humidity.

Come Saturday, should the heat wave show signs of prolonging its stay in the Balearics, the local government's “heatwave emergency” operation will swing into action.

However, for those travelling to parts of southern Spain over the next few days, beware, temperatures could reach some ten degrees higher than in the Balearics.

Agusti Jansa, head of the Balearic Met office said yesterday that the forecast maximum temperature over the next few days is 34ºC, however, the high humidity and hot winds will make conditions feel even hotter.

He said that “in principle,” the heatwave which hit the Canary Islands, southern and central Spain yesterday, should not stretch to the Balearics and that temperatures in the Balearics should not hit the 35ºC mark which the local authorities have set as the benchmark for “operation heatwave.” However, on the other hand, if a heatwave lasts more than three days, then the emergency operation will be given the green light.
Jansa explained that, over the past few days, minimum temperatuures in the Balearics have been around 20ºC, but humidity has risen sharply.
In Palma, humidity levels have been at a minimum of 72 percent and a maximum of 95 percent, hence the past few days in the city have felt hot and sticky.

The two key days are going to be tomorrow and Saturday with temperatures in some parts of Spain forecast to hit 42ºC to 45ºC.
Here in the Balearics and Mediterranean coastal regions of Spain, minimum temperatures are not forecast to dip below 23ºC.

EMERGENCY
Over the past month, the Balearic health services has been doing all it can to make sure that the two “risk” groups, the over 65*s and children, are aware of the dangers posed by the heat.
Despite the fact that this summer is, as expected, proving not to be as hot and harsh as last year, the government has invested over 20'000 euros in an awareness campaign. This is aimed at reducing problems caused by the heat and failure to follow the basic precautions such as consuming plenty of liquid, non-alcoholic, and fruit, reducing physical activity during the heat of the day, avoiding heavy meals and wearing light clothes.

An extra 37 doctors and nurses are on standby in the event of a heat wave and the emergency services have been increased in Palma, Can Picafort and Manacor.

The sudden surge in temperatures comes as demand for electricity reaches its annual peak as the summer season reaches its height. Yesterday power company Gesa Endesa confirmed that the Balearic power grid is more than ready to cope with the rise in demand expected over the next few days.

However, GESA is not expecting demand to be as high as during August over the past few years because it is not forecast to be as hot. Also, demand is not expected to be as high due to the dip in tourism.

GESA spokesperson, María Magdalena Frau, said that the company is confident the power cut which hit large parts of the island last year, leaving nearly a thousand people without power, will not happen again.

GESA had to pay out 60.000 euros in compensation after over 600 clients complained. It is already under fire from shopkeepers in Palma after a power cut hit businesses just two days before the summer sales started.

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