Spain’s east coast braces for fresh bout of torrential rain

After wreaking havoc across the country in September, a new “gota fría” phenomenon is expected to cause heavy and persistent rainfall

Rain falls in Malvarrosa beach in Valencia on Sunday.
Rain falls in Malvarrosa beach in Valencia on Sunday.Kai Försterling (EFE)

A slow-moving storm system, known officially as an upper-level isolated depression (DANA) but more popularly in Spain as a gota fría – literally “cold drop”– will affect almost all of Spain until at least Thursday, according to a special warning from Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET.

Wind gusts of up to 90 kilometers per hour, dangerous sea conditions, and snow have also been forecast

Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands have been warned to expect heavy, persistent and even torrential rainfall. The warning comes just over a month after the area was hit by Spain’s worst storm in 140 years. In early September, the torrential downpours caused by the “cold drop” left six people dead, forced thousands from their homes, and destroyed at least 300,000 hectares of prime agricultural land according to early estimates.

But AEMET spokesperson Rubén del Campo has assured that “a DANA is not always synonymous with catastrophe.” According to Del Campo, the new storm will be “less intense but more extensive.” The northeast of Catalonia is expected to be hardest hit by the heavy rainfall, with 300 millimeters forecast to fall. Barcelona has been warned to expect torrential rainfall, with more than 60 millimeters of rain expected to fall in one hour.

In the rest of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, more than 150 millimeters of rain is forecast. AEMET, however, has warned residents to remain alert for updates, as small changes in the weather conditions can significantly change what areas are hit by the storm.

The rest of Spain – with the exception of the Canary Islands – is also expected to feel the effects of the cold drop. Rain is forecast for almost the entire peninsula between Tuesday and Thursday, with the east of Galicia, and the westernmost part of Extremadura and Andalusia the only exceptions.

A DANA is not always synonymous with catastrophe

AEMET spokesperson Rubén del Campo

Del Campo has also warned the storms could be “very intense, with hail, wind gusts of up to 80 and 90 kilometers per hour, tornadoes and waterspouts.” Alerts have also been issued for dangerous sea conditions, with waves up to four meters high, in Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, Alicante, Castellón and the Balearic Islands. 

Spain can also expect cooler weather, with both the maximum and minimum temperatures forecast to fall below the average. Temperatures are expected to drop between 5ºC and 10ºC below the average in the east of the peninsula on Tuesday, and between 5ºC and 10ºC across almost the entire peninsula on Wednesday.

According to Del Campo, “in many of the regional capitals such as Burgos, Soria Ávila, Segovia and Salamanca, the temperature will not reach more than 10ºC, while in Madrid it will be around 12ºC and 13ºC” on Wednesday.

AEMET has activated a red alert – the highest on the three-level scale – for Girona; an orange alert (medium risk) for the rest of Catalonia, Castellón and the Balearic Islands; and a yellow alert (low risk) for Aragón, Albacete, Alicante, Valencia and Murcia. The alerts will remain in place until Thursday.

English version by Melissa Kitson.


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