Mainland Spain has recorded its hottest December day, putting the nation’s ski season at risk.

The country is nearing the end of its hottest year on record after a summer that has produced four heatwaves, part of a global pattern of rising temperatures that scientists say is down to human caused climate change.

A mass of hot air swept over the Iberian Peninsula on Tuesday, with some parts nearing 30C (86F).

Malaga reached 29.9C (85.8F), provisionally becoming mainland Spain’s hottest December day on record, the Met Office said, citing figures by the Spanish national weather agency AEMET.

They said that until yesterday, the December record was 29.4C (84.9F), recorded in Motril, in Granada, on 10 December 2010.

Three other sites in addition to Malaga passed this temperature threshold on Tuesday, the agency said.

“It’s one of the warmest masses of air to have ever overflown Spain at this point in December,” said Ruben del Campo, a spokesperson for Spain’s national weather agency.

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He also pointed to cities on the sunny Mediterranean coast, such as Valencia, which recorded temperatures of at least 27C (80F) – two degrees higher than the previous record there for the last month of the year.

It also presents a gloomy outlook for the next few months, he said, with the unseasonable heat combined with predictions of sparse rainfall heralding a “not very good” season for winter sports.

These activities depend on copious amounts of snow, which once melted is also a crucial water resource in spring and summer.

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At the popular ski resort of Navacerrada outside Madrid, visitors complained about the lack of snow.

Vicente Solsona, a 66-year-old retired university professor from eastern Castellon province, said that Navacerrada should have at least one metre (3.3 feet) of snow by now.

“We’re calmly destroying everything,” he added. “The problem is that there’s no going back.”

“It’s a terrifying feeling because this should really be covered in snow or frozen over, but instead it’s green and lush for this time of the year,” Tania, a 32-year-old marine biologist, said.

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