MADRID – Juan Jesús González Alemán, expert at AEMET, stated that current atmospheric and ocean conditions in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean could theoretically support a Category 3 or 4 hurricane in Spain.
Spain was hit last week by the extremely powerful storm Ciarán. This was one of the strongest storms Western Europe has seen this century. According to Rubén del Campo, spokesperson for AEMET, this storm, which approached the intensity of a hurricane, broke records in November with gusts above 150 km/h.
Storm Ciarán exceeded typical autumn storm effects
These gusts had consequences for both the infrastructure and the population. On November 2, a 23-year-old girl was crushed by a tree that fell on her in central Madrid. Ciarán had developed into one of the most powerful extratropical cyclones in recent times. The phenomenon triggered warnings throughout Spain and has already claimed twelve lives and dozens of injuries worldwide. This was due to effects that exceeded the typical impact of an autumn storm and broke records.
“This is madness”
In this context, a tweet from the AEMET expert, Juan Jesús González Alemán, doctor of physics and researcher in atmospheric dynamics and modelling at the agency, went viral. He warned in advance that storm Ciarán would be very intense and compared its impact to that of a hurricane.
Esto es una barbaridad.
Principios de noviembre y el ambiente atmosférico/oceánico en el Atlántico Nordeste sería capaz de soportar (teóricamente) un huracán de hasta categoría 3 o 4!
Una clarísima expansión de las condiciones tropicales hacia nuestras regiones. pic.twitter.com/M8nnYPVnTQ
— Dr. J. J. González Alemán (@glezjuanje) November 6, 2023
“This is madness,” he wrote on the social network X. “Early November and the atmospheric environment in the Northeast Atlantic could (theoretically) produce a category 3 or 4 hurricane. A very clear extension of tropical conditions towards our regions,” he noted.
In an old Twitter thread where he shared a map, he indicated the maximum intensity a tropical cyclone could reach if it were to develop in the area. Therefore, if a tropical cyclone forms, it could reach this category if conditions are right to take advantage of that energy.
The possible impact of storms is increasing
The physicist also explained in this article in El País that current climatic conditions can cause the impact of DANAs (isolated high-level depressions) to become much greater. He explained that there is this possibility due to the unusually warm temperatures in the Mediterranean in summer. He also noted that studies do not provide a clear conclusion about the increase in the number of storms. However, it is known that climate change is increasing their potential impact. The warming of the surface temperature of the sea water increases the availability of water vapour and energy. That can fan storms and make them more destructive when they occur.
About the many fallen trees
Why did so many trees blow down during Ciarán? The Head of Gardening and Trees of the Royal Botanical Garden of the CSIC and President of the Spanish Tree Nursery Association, Mariano Sánchez, is cited in Infobae. According to him, a small percentage of tree falls are due to the poor condition of the specimen. Then a tree cannot withstand a strong gust of wind. Other reasons are sought in human management. Some trees are planted with little substrate, which means they have little root; or standing in small holes surrounded by a large amount of concrete. Or branches rot as a result of incorrect pruning.