Driest spring ever in Spain despite torrential rain in the east

by Lorraine Williamson
heavy rain

MADRID – Spain is gearing up for its driest spring on record, despite recent torrential rains that have caused more precipitation in one day than normally falls in an entire month in some places on Spain’s east coast. 

According to the AEMET State Meteorological Service, it is the driest spring to date since records were kept in 1961. Rubén del Campo, the spokesman for AEMET, emphasised on rtve.es that despite the amount of rain that has fallen, only 48 litres per square metre was registered throughout Spain from March 1 to May 21. This is well below the average of 180 litres per square metre for this time of year. 

Even the driest spring on record, which occurred in 1995 with 86 litres per square metre, is nowhere near approached. However, it cannot be ruled out that more precipitation will fall in the coming days, possibly exceeding the number of litres in 1995. 

Rainfall deficit eased in some places 

The drought will not be alleviated by the recent rainfall. However, it will help to ease the rainfall deficit in some places. The southeast of the mainland and parts of the Mediterranean coast, in particular, will benefit, although the drought there is not as severe as in, for example, areas of inland Andalucia around the Guadalquivir River and Extremadura around the Guadiana River. 

Also read: Heavy rain and storm cause cars to be trapped and schools closed in Spain 

Precipitation deficit of 28% compared to average 

To close the year at normal values, more than twice as much rain must fall. So far, in the hydrological year from October 1, 2022, to May 21, 2023, 360 litres per square metre have fallen throughout Spain, while the normal average is 504 litres. The precipitation deficit is therefore 28% compared to the average. To reach the average, about 280 litres per square metre should fall by September 30. In the months of June, July, August and September, an average of about 135 litres of precipitation falls. 

Heavy downpours in the Levante 

Although torrential rains are currently taking place in the Levante (eastern Spain), including 130 litres per square metre in Onteniente (Valencia), 113 litres per square metre in Cabo de Palos and Cartagena (Murcia), and 108 litres per square metre in Albox (Almería), these rain showers will not be able to lift the drought. 

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A record amount of rainfall in one day 

In some areas, records have also been broken for daily rainfall, such as Almeria airport, which recorded 52.6 litres per square metre in 24 hours, the highest for the month of May since 1973. 

Also read: Cars trapped and schools closed due to heavy rainfall

Heavy showers continue in eastern Spain 

According to AEMET, heavy showers will continue for the next few hours in the south of the Valencia region, where there was a warning of significant risk until Wednesday morning. Torrential rain may fall more than 60 litres per square metre per hour or an accumulation of 150 litres per square metre within 12 hours. 

Heavy showers are also expected in Aragón, especially along the Ebro River in Zaragoza, where an orange warning is also in effect. 

AEMET predicts that heavy rainfall will continue throughout Tuesday and Wednesday in the region of Murcia, eastern Andalucia and especially in northeastern Spain, Catalonia, Aragon, Navarra, La Rioja, parts of Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, the Madrid region and the Balearic Islands. 

In short, much of the eastern part of the mainland and the Balearic Islands must prepare for heavy or localised very heavy showers, which might sometimes be accompanied by thunder and hail. 

Also read: Unprecedented drought might be the costliest in recorded history 

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