THIS week's plummeting temperatures across Spain – which brought severe thunder storms and flash floods in some areas – saw shopping centres and bars doing a roaring trade as tourists had to think of something else to do besides go to the beach or the pool, but in at least three provinces, residents and visitors alike had to light the fire, dig out the blankets and even scrape ice off their cars.
Whilst on the Mediterranean and south coast, locals and holidaymakers bemoaned cloudy skies and the thermometer plunging to the low 20ºCs, parts of the north and centre of the mainland registered temperatures below freezing.
The record was held by the town of Robleda-Cervantes in the province of Zamora, which backs onto northern Portugal, where Thursday night went down to -1.9ºC.
And Zamora was not unique: in the province of Ourense in Galicia in Spain's far north-west, the town of Calvos de Randín reported the mercury nose-diving to -1.6ºC on Thursday night.
Both Galicia and the centre-northern region of Castilla y León – which Zamora is part of – are typically cool and temperate in summer; although they regularly enjoy sunshine and figures of well over 30ºC between June and September, average temperatures are typically lower than in the rest of the country and residents in the south and east who cannot stand the heat often head north to enjoy the beach in more springlike climates.
But even then, their standard lows for August nights rarely go below 14ºC.
Land-locked areas of Spain normally register temperature extremes, except in major cities – rural parts in the centre often have summers of well over 40ºC and winters as low as -20ºC, with the cooler weather often starting in late August.
Yet night temperatures of -1.5ºC in central Spain have never been seen in recent history until this week when the town of Cantalojas, in the province of Guadalajara, witnessed it in person.
The warm weather is back now across most of Spain, with beach weather once again on the cards for this weekend and expected to continue until the end of August at least – or well into September in the south and on the Mediterranean.
Recent years on the east coast have seen flash floods and freak storms striking for three or four days in August, after which normal summer heat returns, and September fast becoming the hottest month of the year.