Spain’s eastern Valencia region has just experienced the wettest winter on record. In the provinces of Valencia and Alicante, there had not been this much rain since authorities began keeping weather records back in 1864. It is the same story in Castellón province, which began keeping track of rainfall in 1920.
The unprecedented wet weather – two and a half times what is considered normal rain levels for this season – comes just a year after the region experienced the driest winter on record.
And forecasts indicate that intense weather events will occur more frequently in future due to climate change, according to Jorge Tamayo, the Valencia representative for the Spanish weather agency Aemet.
This past winter – which for weather purposes encompasses the months of December, January and February – has brought extreme weather to the Mediterranean region. Besides rain and gale-force winds, an unexpected snow storm in January left thousands of drivers stranded on the A-3 freeway.
The snow-melting capacity of the weather stations was not up to the intensity of the snowfall
José Ángel Núñez Mora, Aemet
The storm left unusual landscapes for this part of the country. The beaches of Torrevieja, Jávea and Dénia, in Alicante province, were covered in up to 10 centimeters of snow, while the mountain village of Morella, in northern Castellón, logged 60 centimeters.
In combination with strong winds, the storm felled power lines and left thousands of homes in the dark.
José Ángel Núñez Mora, head of Aemet’s climatology department in Valencia, recalls how the weather stations in Morella and Vilafranca (Castellón) were covered in snow despite their equipment.
“The snow-melting capacity of the stations, which are made in countries like Finland and Germany, was not up to the intensity of the snowfall,” he said.
Nor did the maritime records show anything like the 6.45-meter swell that formed in front of the city of Valencia during the January storm. The previous high mark had been set in 2009, at 5.5 meters.
As for this spring, weather experts are expecting temperatures above the historical average.
English version by Susana Urra.