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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
ALTHOUGH the Balearic Islands had a colder than average winter, it can now look forward to a spring which is forecast to be warmer than normal, National Weather Agency (AEMET) spokesman Agusti Jansa said yesterday.

Jansa said that comparing temperatures this winter in the Islands with averages registered between 1971 and 2000, it had been 0.6 degrees colder. But when spring officially begins next Monday, he claimed, temperatures will be above average for the time of year, rainfall levels will be normal but spread out unevenly over the coming three months.

Jansa said that Ibiza had been particularly cold this winter, a full one degree below average, Majorca was down by 0.5 degrees, and Minorca by 0.4. But he said that the same difference was not applicable when comparing this winter with the previous one, the winter of 2009/2010. “Temperatures were not much less than those registered last year,” said Jansa, concluding that there had not really been any conditions of extreme cold this winter, and that average temperatures this year had been considerably higher than the winter of 2005/2006.

However, so far as rainfall was concerned, Jansa reported that levels had been 9 percent higher than normal this winter. Volumes, he explained, had nevertheless been spread out unevenly over the season. He said that there had actually been a shortage of rain in December but noticeably more than average in January - above all on 27th Januarywhen 40 litres per square metre fell in the Balearics.

Jansa claimed that without these downpours in January, rainfall would have registered lower than average this winter as there were long periods without any rain at all in February.

He said that as a result of climate change, over the part 40 years temperatures have risen in the Balearics by 2 degrees, although in winter the increase is not even one degree higher. Jansa said that although it might be the case that temperatures are increasing, the winter just gone has not promoted the trend because minimum temperatures had remained low, in some cases at zero degrees, and the level of snow above sea level in December had been quite low. “December proved to be colder than normal,” he said, explaining that the sensation of a “freeze” was heightened by the wind chill factor.
Jansa said that the rainfall register for the year begins on 1st October and that since then it has been Minorca which has been experiencing noticeably higher rainfall. Ibiza meanwhile has had less rain than normal and Majorca has had an excess in some areas with not enough in others.

He said that if a comparison were to be made between the middle of March this year and the same period in 2010, Minorca has had 45 percent more rainfall, Ibiza 25 percent less, and levels on Majorca have remained the same.

Jansa said that since the start of 2007, the Balearic Islands have had three years of above average rainfall. Levels, however, are now starting to even out. Prior to 2007, there had been several periods of drought in the region.