Winter usually brings to Spain the coldest days of the year, of those in which the thermometers collapse and it is better not to go outside. It is likely that those days when you feel the cold down to the bones, you think that they must be setting records. What’s more, you may even wonder if you are not living the coldest day of the year.
Determining if it is going to be or not is very complicated, because the question that this article titles can’t be answered for sure, since there is no history that says that this or that day is the coldest of the year. Not in vain, it depends on many aspects and not in all the populations of a country like Spain does the same cold simultaneously. However, what can be measured is the time when temperatures traditionally drop the most, and even define the cold waves that we have suffered in recent decades.
If you’ve already had a lot of winters on your back, you will have seen how temperatures don’t drop as much as they used to during the colder season. This fact was confirmed in the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) when they reported that between 1971 and 2011 the average temperature in Spain rose 0.6 ºC.
Of course, climate change not only leads to a gradual increase in temperatures, but also other weather phenomena such as the aforementioned cold waves or torrential storms, to give just two examples.
Be that as it may, it is clear that the coldest months of the year in our country are winter. We may have felt a severe cold on occasion in November or March, but only 2 cold spells since 1975 have occurred in the eleventh month of the year.
Therefore, the coldest months are December, January and February, although it is the second of them that presents the lower average temperature of all. This is because it is the time of year when there is less hours of sun, while the polar air masses have a higher incidence. As a counterpoint, we find that July is the hottest in the inland areas and August on the coast.
So the most common is that the coldest day of each year occurs at some point in the winter quarter.
The coldest moment
Obviously, after 365 days of the year, in each town or region you can find out what was the coldest day and when the temperatures were coldest. In this sense, we can point out what time of day the mercury in thermometers is possibly going down the most. It usually happens between an hour before sunrise and half an hour after that the first rays of sun are glimpsed. This happens because the earth’s surface radiates energy throughout the day and all night, but when the sun goes down, it stops receiving it, so that in the last hours of darkness the cold is greater.
Needless to say, it is the worst time for seniors to venture out for a walk, as the health risks increase with intense cold. The best thing, therefore, will be to wait for the sun’s rays to begin to heat up.
Generally the coldest days of the year occur during the so-called cold waves, that is, those periods of time in which there are unusually low temperatures. Just like AEMET points out: “A ‘Cold Wave’ is considered an episode of at least three consecutive days, in which at least 10% of the stations considered register minimums below the 5% percentile of their series of daily minimum temperatures for the months of January and February. from the period 1971-2000”.
The agency also emphasizes that the usual temperatures of each place are taken into account. For example, in a cold area like Molina de Aragon it will not be strange that the thermometer reads 4 degrees below zero, while in Seville yes we would be talking about a really strange fact.
Regarding the cold waves, the last one occurred between January 11 and 13, 2019 (affected 12 provinces), according to AEMET, almost prolonging the previous one produced between 4 and 8 of that same month (affecting 19). Of course, the one that affected more provinces since 1975 was the one that occurred between the days January 4-17, 1985as it was spread by 45.
However, to find the lowest temperature recorded by the National Institute of Meteorology, you have to go back to December 17, 1963, when at the aerodrome of Calamocha (Teruel) were registered -30ºC. The next in the ranking comes from one of the coldest towns in Spain (if not the most), since in Molina de Aragón (Guadalajara) they reached -28ºC on January 28, 1952. Also, the podium completes it Reinosa (Cantabria), which on January 4, 1971 remained at -24.5ºC.