The Azores High is a persistent atmospheric high-pressure ridge over the North Atlantic surrounded by anticyclonic winds that steer rain-bearing weather systems and modulate the oceanic moisture transport to Europe. The areal extent of the Azores High thereby affects precipitation across western Europe, especially during winter. Here we use observations and ensemble climate model simulations to show that winters with an extremely large Azores High are significantly more common in the industrial era (since ce 1850) than in pre-industrial times, resulting in anomalously dry conditions across the western Mediterranean, including the Iberian Peninsula. Simulations of the past millennium indicate that the industrial-era expansion of the Azores High is unprecedented throughout the past millennium (since ce 850), consistent with precipitation proxy evidence from Portugal. Azores High expansion emerges after ce 1850 and strengthens into the twentieth century, consistent with anthropogenically driven warming. The Azores High over the North Atlantic has expanded due to anthropogenic climate change, disrupting precipitation patterns in western Europe, according to climate modelling and precipitation proxy records spanning the past millennium.