Spanish palm trees appear to be melting in shocking heatwave as mercury spikes

Europe's lethal heatwave could break temperature records next week

A shocking video shows the moment a palm tree snapped in half in the sweltering heat in the province of Alicante.

Benidorm, Torrevieja, Crevillente and Elche were among the places where nearly a dozen palms collapsed earlier this week due to extreme heat conditions, local media reported. 

Temperatures were in the high thirties on July 19 in Alicante, while other places exceeded 40C, with Álora and surrounding areas recording a maximum of 44.2C, according to weather service Aemet. 

Biology professor Manuel Crespo from the University of Alicante believes those high temperatures were responsible for the palms’ deaths. 

He told local media: “Should irrigation be reduced due to drought, the compacting of the soil can lead to root damage due to insufficient aeration, ultimately weakening the plant and possibly causing it to detach from the ground in extreme cases.”

Although palm trees are often found in deserts, the professor said that “they are only found in oases with abundant groundwater”. 

Agronomist and Spanish Landscapers’ Association president Jose Luis Romeu also told local media: “Palm trees can fall due to multiple factors, and one of them is lack of irrigation. The stiffer the trunk of a palm tree, the higher the risk.”

He added: “In the past, palm trees, especially in Elche, were located around irrigation ditches. Now, in parks with sprinkler irrigation, water only reaches the first few centimetres.

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“While it’s true that there were significant rains in April, May, and June, providing important and sufficient irrigation, we are currently dealing with a lot of water stress and abrupt temperature changes, and the plant does not have the capacity for such rapid adaptation.”

The agronomist continued: “If palm trees are placed in areas where they cannot expand their root system and anchor themselves well to the substrate, it can lead to the plants becoming unstable and falling.”

The Elche Film Festival was forced to cancel all its screenings due to safety concerns after a palm tree collapsed on July 16.

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