MADRID – A violent storm named Betty has brought heavy rain, gusts of wind, thunderstorms and hail to large parts of Spain, ending the last heat wave of the summer.
The storm caused several injuries and emergencies in various parts of Spain. The storm also wreaked havoc on Mallorca. There, strong gusts of wind caused a collision between a cruise ship and an oil tanker in the port of Palma de Mallorca on Sunday morning. The docked cruise ship Brittania was so agitated by the strong wind that it destroyed moorings and crashed into an oil tanker.
As a result of the collision, the oil tanker suffered a hole in the hull, without any leakage into the sea. The Port Authority of the Balearic Islands (APB) has activated the Internal Maritime Plan (PIM) at level 0 as a preventive measure.
Six people slightly injured
At the same time, the strong wind in the port of Palma caused a window of the port building to become detached. About six people, all cruise tourists, were slightly injured by the breaking glass. All have been transferred to a health centre for treatment.
— FernandoMadrid. (@FernandoMadridd) August 27, 2023
Falling branches and trees
The Palma fire service has been busy dealing with problems in the coastal areas of the Bay of Palma. This mainly concerned falling branches and trees. Five trees have been blown down on the Paseo Marítimo opposite the cathedral. At the same time, the fire service attended a traffic accident involving trapped persons on the road to Bunyola. Moreover, they had to rescue an injured hiker in the Costa de la Calma, in Calvià.
In Calvià, a pregnant woman was injured after a street sign fell on her due to heavy rain. In addition, two children were rescued from some rocks after the wind blew their air mattress away into the sea off the beach in Illetas.
The strongest phase of the passage of Storm Betty was short but intense and hit Mallorca from the south. In just half an hour, between ten and eleven in the morning, the storm swept over Palma and the coastal areas of Calvià and Llucmajor. Many residents were alarmed by the force with which wind and rain beat against the windows.
— Radio Pichincha (@radio_pichincha) August 27, 2023
Soon the Palma Fire Brigade received a flood of calls, mainly due to fallen trees and branches, as well as shutters, awnings and other items torn loose by the wind. In addition to the five palm trees that fell in front of the cathedral, similar problems occurred throughout the city. On streets such as the General Riera, motorists had to avoid fallen branches on the road. In the surrounding areas, the problems were less serious around noon.
Flights cancelled or delayed
A total of 45 flights were cancelled or diverted at the three Balearic Islands airports – Palma, Ibiza and Menorca – until 3 pm on Sunday. This was due to the storm and strong winds plaguing the archipelago, the Spanish airport authority AENA reported. Specifically, at Palma airport, 18 flights have been diverted and 7 flights have been cancelled.
In Ibiza there have been 10 cancellations and 8 diversions and at Menorca airport there have been 3 diversions and 7 cancellations.
The airports of the Balearic Islands had planned to operate 1,455 flights this last Sunday of August.
Several incidents on the peninsula
In Barcelona, the rain has flooded the tunnel on the Plaza de España. The water forced authorities to halt traffic for a few minutes. The authorities have cancelled planned street entertainment activities for the second stage of Spain’s major cycling tour, La Vuelta.
In the Maresme region, firefighters in Vilassar de Mar had to rescue a person trapped in a water-dragged vehicle. The Catalan firefighters intervened in the region 190 from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning due to minor flooding.
In Andalusia, three people were injured in the province of Malaga by falling branches and objects. A total of eighty wind incidents were recorded there. It mainly concerned fallen traffic and advertising signs and other objects. Furthermore, some cabling and lighting also flew through the air due to the strong wind. In particular, authorities have recorded incidents in the municipalities of Estepona, Ronda, Istán, Fuengirola, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Moclinejo, Benalmádena or the capital of Málaga.
Hailstones as big as chicken eggs in Tarragona
The fierce storm was accompanied by large hailstones in La Sénia (Tarragona) that caused damage to vehicles and homes. According to several witnesses, the hailstones that fell were about the size of chicken eggs. The local police confirm that numerous cars parked along the road have suffered damage, as well as the windows of houses and the pipes.
The Catalan Weather Service (Meteocat) reported that in places such as Ulldecona (Tarragona) more than 16 litres rain per square meter has fallen in just ten minutes. Local authorities and emergency services are working closely together to assess the damage and provide assistance to those affected.
Weather alert orange and yellow because of storm Betty
The areas of the Balearic Islands, Catalonia and the Comunitat Valenciana in particular had or are still dealing with an orange or yellow weather alert on Sunday. This is due to storms and strong winds along the coast. In addition, Andalusia, Aragon, Murcia, Navarra, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands and the autonomous city of Melilla also have a yellow weather alert. This indicates a slightly lower risk.
Heavy rain and wind gusts
Rainfall on the coast of the Comunitat Valenciana can reach 40 litres per square meter in an hour. Moreover, wind gusts can reach up to 100 kilometres per hour in the northern interior of Castellón. Aemet expects gusts of wind up to 70 km/h and severe thunderstorms with hail in the Murcia region.
Forecast for the next few days
In the coming days, there will be continuous rain showers in the eastern part of the Cantabrian coast. Furthermore, meteorologists expect strong wind gusts in the Canary Islands, Ampurdán, Pyrenees and the Balearic Islands, among others. According to forecasts from the Spanish meteorological service AEMET, it will remain rainy in the northern part of the country for the rest of the week.