January was the 10th consecutive month with precipitation below normal, it noted. However, no part of the mainland was at the end of the month in a situation of extreme drought, whereas at the end of December 6.4 percent had been.
According to the bulletin posted on the IPMA website on Tuesday, at the end of January 55.6 percent of mainland Portugal was in severe drought, 39.9 percent in moderate drought and 4.5 percent in slight drought.
At the end of December, 58.3 percent of the mainland was facing severe drought, 29.1 percent moderate drought, and 5.6 percent slight drought.
The mean maximum temperature in January was 13.79 degrees Celsius - higher than normal. However, the average value of minimum air temperature, at 4.30 percent, was lower than normal.
“During the month of January, the levels of mean air temperature presented great variability,” IPMA said in a statement, citing unusually high minimum temperatures on 3 and 4 January and an unusually low one on 15 January.
Maximum temperatures were also unusually high from 28 to 31 January, it said.
As for precipitation, IPMA stated that January was dry, with an average total for the mainland of 76.5 millimetres, around 65 percent of normal. It noted that, in the past 15 years, only in five of these was average precipitation in January above normal.
In related news, this year’s maize harvest in Portugal could be hit by water shortages across the country, above all south of the River Tagus, according to the national producers’ association.
José Luís Lopes, president of the National Association of Maize and Sorghum Producers (ANPROMIS), told Lusa News Agency that the ongoing drought could “affect the crops” this year.
“There is a constraint at the moment with a shortage of water that is not so problematic in the north of the country, but is being felt more south of the Tagus,” he said. “These limitations could come to influence the next maize harvest, as well as that of other irrigated crops.”
Moreover, Lopes said, selling prices for maize are not “favourable”, yet it is difficult to replace the crop with others.
According to ANPROMIS maize growing represents an annual turnover of more than €40 million, with output going for both human and animal consumption.