Algarve and almost all of Baixo Alentejo are in extreme drought

91% of the national territory is in the severe and extreme drought classes

The meteorological drought situation worsened in the first fortnight of February, so the entirety of the Algarve territory and almost all of Baixo Alentejo are now in a situation of extreme drought, according to data made available, this Monday, February 21, at Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA).

According to the IPMA, which started to publish biweekly bulletins to monitor the meteorological drought, 91% of the national territory was in the severe and extreme drought classes, on 15 February.

In the case of the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo, the situation has worsened in the last 15 days, with the entire Algarve territory now experiencing the highest level of drought.

In Baixo Alentejo, there was also a worsening of the affected area.

Contributing to this situation was the fact that the maximum temperature values ​​were «almost always» higher than the normal monthly value and also the average value of the amount of precipitation which, until the end of the first fortnight of February, was lower than the monthly normal 1971-2000, corresponding to only 7%.

In the specific case of the Algarve, the value of precipitation was 3,4% of the normal value, while in the district of Beja, this value was 3,7%.

The IPMA also highlights the fact that the percentage of water in the soil is lower than normal throughout the territory, with «values ​​below 20% in the Northeast and South regions, with many places reaching the point of permanent wilting» .

Baixo Alentejo and the interior of the Algarve are areas particularly affected by this lack of water in the soil.

The bulletin indicates that the degree of severity of the meteorological drought on 15 February was higher than in 2018 and in 2005, two years also considered dry, «with a higher percentage in the severe and extreme drought classes and which corresponds to around 91 % of the territory'.

The situation is not good and, according to the IPMA, it is not expected to improve in the medium term. According to the monthly forecast from the European Center for Medium-Term Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), “until the end of February, significant precipitation is not expected across the entire territory. In relation to air temperature, the tendency will be for values ​​higher than normal for the entire territory, especially for the interior Central and South region».

For all these reasons, “in a preview of the meteorological situation and according to the meteorological forecasts, a continuation of the meteorological drought situation at the end of February will be very likely, with almost the entire territory in the most severe classes of the PDSI index”, concludes the IPMA.