SPRING is about to begin, with the Balearic Meteorological Centre yesterday forecasting that the season will be “more or less normal” with temperatures expected to be slightly lower than usual.

Met Office chief, Agustin Jansa reported that the Balearics is leaving behind a particularly cold winter with 13 days of rainfall in each of the winter months, allowing both Majorca and Minorca to top up their water supplies.

Tomorrow spring begins in the early afternoon and will last until the morning of 21st June when summer begins.. Apart from rainfall forecast to be “normal” this season, temperatures will be on the “low side” said Jansa. As of this coming Saturday, days will start to lengthen and clocks will be put forward at 2am on Sunday, 29th March.

Across Spain as a whole, meanwhile, National Met Office director, Antonio Mestre said yesterday that a similar prediction of “normal rainfall and lower temperatures” can be applied to the whole country but with higher expectations of stormy squalls.

Commenting on this winter, National Met Office spokesman Angel Rivera said that it had been the fifteenth coldest since 1971 with an average temperature of 7.4 degrees centigrade and was the 22nd coldest in the past 48 years (since 1961). However, colder winters have been recorded this century, such as those of 2004 and 2005 when average temperatures of 6.5 and 6.7 degrees, respectively, were registered. Rivera said that this winter had featured two slots of continuously bad weather leading to a season which he described as “complicated, cold and accompanied by a series of problems.” It was noticeably cold in areas of the country bordering the Mediterranean, in the majority of central and northern regions, and in the Canary and Balearic Islands. There were isolated spots, including in the Balearic Islands where thermometers plummeted excessively, but statistics also recorded specific zones which were so cold that their minimum temperatures didn't even reach the mean reference points calculated between the years 1971 and 2000.

It was not until the 10th February, Rivera said “when the weather showed signs of recuperation.” The winter as a whole, he added, seemed longer and colder because persistent cloud layers meant that even the maximum temperatures remained low.

Turning to the issue of climatic change, Rivera said that although temperatures in 2008 had been above normal and that the year 2000 looked as though it was “going to put the brakes” on global warming, he concluded that the trend for rising temperatures is still in place. He confirmed that since 1970, temperatures had started to rise “very quickly” and that in spite of the very cold periods experienced at various stages over the past four decades, there was no overall weather pattern that suggested that global warming was about to make an “about turn” or that the climate was heading towards a “colder” era.