LISBON, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- More than 85 percent of mainland Portugal is suffering from severe drought, the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) said in a statement on Friday.
According to the Palmer Drought Severity Index used by the IPMA, 81 percent of the mainland is experiencing severe drought and 7.4 percent extreme drought. The latter classification is the worst on the scale.
Average rainfall in Portugal in September was at its lowest level for the month in 87 years, while precipitation in the April to September period was the second lowest ever recorded after 2005.
Meanwhile, it was the hottest September in 87 years, in terms of average maximum temperatures, and the April to September period saw the highest average maximums since 1931.
The combination of low rainfall and high temperatures has severely reduced the soil water content. Farmers in the worst effected areas have been promised state assistance and the Reservoir Management Commission is drafting plans to minimize water shortage issues.
The hot temperatures have played their role in what has been a devastating year for forest fires in Portugal. In another report published on Friday, the Institute for Forest Conservation revealed that more than 215,000 hectares have burned in 2017, double the yearly average.
The worst of the fires killed 64 people in June in Pedrogao Grande area in central Portugal.
There appears to be no imminent let up in the hot weather with temperatures as high as 37 degrees Celsius forecast in the coming days. Some 70 parishes have been placed on maximum wild fire alert.