The month of May was one of the warmest Spring months in Greece in the last decade, according to the network of meteorological stations of the National Observatory of Athens.
In Central Greece, the Peloponnese and Crete, it was the warmest May at least since 2010, while for the Cyclades and the Dodecanese it was the second warmest during the same period.
More specifically, in Macedonia and Thrace, the average maximum temperature ranged 0.8 degrees Celsius higher than the average value (fourth highest of the decade).
In Western Greece it was 0.9 degrees Celsius higher (the fifth highest of the decade).
In Thessaly, it was 1.5 degrees Celsius higher (second highest of the decade after May 2013).
In Central Greece, the Peloponnese and Crete, it was 1.9, 2 and 2 degrees Celsius higher respectively (the highest of the decade),
In the Aegean islands outside of Crete, it was 1.2 degrees Celsius higher (second highest after May 2018).
The main cause of the prolonged high temperatures in Greece was the prevalence of high barometric pressures in most of the Eastern Mediterranean, according to meteorologists.
This resulted in the flow of hot air masses from Africa to the Balkans.
January in Greece the warmest month in 160 years
The National Observatory of Athens had also declared the month of January as the warmest in at least 160 years.
In the earliest days of January, temperatures in Greece’s capital city ranged from 18.3 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit) to 12.1 degrees Celsius (54 degrees F), with an average temperature of 14.8 degrees Celsius (59 F).
These temperatures were considerably warmer than what is commonly found in the city in the wintertime, and amount to the warmest temperatures recorded during the period in the city in over one and a half centuries.
With temperatures reaching 22.2 (72 degrees F) on January 9, the city of Athens recorded its hottest day in January in the 160 years that the National Observatory of Athens has been recording such data.
Temperatures across the country climbed to 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees F) in areas of the Greek mainland that weekend, while northern Crete saw toasty temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees F).
According to Greece’s METEO weather service, January’s temperatures were as much as 15 degrees Celsius higher than normal for this season, which is traditionally the coldest time of the year.
Climate change brings hot days
Climate change is affecting Greece, adding more very hot days — and fewer very cold nights — in every year from now on, according to a study by the National Observatory of Athens, published in the International Journal of Climatology.
The study shows that in general the thermal bioclimate of the Mediterranean – not only of Greece – has undergone significant heating during the last 30 years.
A significant increase has been recorded in the number of “hot days” (days when one feels discomfort due to the heat), with an average rate of five extra days per decade. Greater growth trends occur in western and northern Greece.
In Ioannina, for example, “hot days” are rising at a rate of six days per decade. In the already vulnerable to the heat city of Larissa and Thessaly in general, the growth rate reaches four days every decade, as happens in Attica.
Growth rates in Crete and Rhodes are significantly smaller (two and three days respectively), which is largely attributed to the beneficial effects of the seasonal northern winds.
At the same time, there is a corresponding reduction in the number of “cold nights” (nights that one feels cool/cold) at an average rate of seven nights per decade. In other words, the nights in Greece are becoming warmer, significantly limiting the intervals in which one can be relieved by the sensation of coolness.