Unusually cold May-weather catch some pilgrims unaware

An unusually cold spell in May this year saw pilgrims huddled within freezing albergues wearing all their clothes and even scrambling to buy sleeping bags along the route.

Using the averages from weatherspark.com, in May the temperatures in Pamplona typically range from 8°C to 17°C.

For reference, the hottest day of the year is normally in August and at that time the temperatures typically range from 15°C to 28°C, while at the end of January, the coldest time of the year it ranges from 0°C to 10°C.

May in Spain is normally known for pleasant temperatures, but temperatures were below normal for May in the north of Spain with fairly strong winds also adding to the pilgrims’ weather woes.

Some pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees even reported some light snow as they walked from Orisson to Burguete on May 11.

Minimum temperatures ranged between 2°C to 6°C for several days.

Some pilgrims had to buy sleeping bags in Pamplona, because their sleeping sacks or liners were not warm enough to brave the freezing night-time temperatures.

Others reported all the pilgrims at Orisson huddled in bed, before 16:30, wearing all their clothes, jackets, hats and gloves inside their sleeping bags and supplied blankets.

The mini-heat wave in Spain at the beginning of May lulled some pilgrims into a false sense of security where they shipped their warm gear like fleeces, hoodies and wool long johns to save weight, and then had to spend more money to replace and buy hoodies and under layer sets when the weather turned unexpectedly.

It was an expensive lesson on how unpredictable the weather in May is.

The cold weather experienced this year is in contrast to pilgrims enduring the hottest May in 44 years during 2022.

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