The Portuguese Institute of the Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) reported this afternoon that in Funchal, on February 4, 2020, the highest value of the minimum air temperature since 1960 was recorded.
Between January 31 and February 5, 2020, a meteorological situation typically known as ‘east’ occurred in Madeira (east wind with invasion of hot and dry air that gave rise to high temperatures, very low relative humidity and some mist) .
“The ‘leste’ generally occurs in the months of February to April and from August to October and can last up to seven days, but as a rule it does not last more than three days, and this episode lasted for five days”.
The highest value of the maximum air temperature (29.1 ° C) was recorded in Porto Moniz, the value of the lowest relative humidity of the air (6%) was recorded in Quinta Grande and the highest value of the minimum air temperature (22 , 1 ° C) was registered at Lugar de Baixo. At the Funchal / Observatório meteorological station, the maximum temperature was 26.1 ° C and the minimum temperature 21.1 ° C. All previously mentioned values were recorded on February 4, 2020.
Analyzing the Funchal / Observatório data series (as it is a much longer series than that of Porto Moniz and Quinta Grande), regarding the maximum temperature and the minimum temperature in the month of February, from 1960 to the 5th of February 2020, it appears that 26.1 ° C was the 4th highest recorded maximum temperature and that 21.0 ° C was the highest recorded minimum temperature.
These meteorological situations that give rise to days with a maximum temperature above 26 ° C in the months of February are not a new situation in Madeira since, between 1960 and 1990, they occurred twice (1961 and 1971) and since 1990 they occurred 5 times . Minimum temperature values above 20 ° C were recorded in 1961 (20.3 ° C) and 1971, (20.6 ° C) and now in 2020 (21.0 ° C), this being the highest value recorded in Funchal .
This situation was accompanied by strong wind, with gusts that varied between 35 km / h in Santa Cruz and 93 km / h in Chão do Areeiro, and gusts greater than 70 km / h were also recorded in the weather stations of Prazeres, Ponta do Pargo, Lombo da Tuesday, Pico Alto and Ponta de São Jorge.
In conclusion, through the analysis of the Funchal / Observatório data series, it appears that in recent years, hot and dry days have increased in frequency in February, which, associated with strong wind, bring together the favorable weather conditions for the occurrence forest fires and their spread.