Storm Nelson threatens Semana Santa processions across Spain

Nelson continuously sends fronts with gusts of wind, coastal phenomena and abundant precipitation towards Spain

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rain semana santa storm nelson

AEMET just named the fourteenth major storm of the season: Nelson. In the coming hours, a front associated with Nelson (a particularly active front) will cross Spain. On its way, the front throws a spanner in the works for countless Easter processions. Many will have to be cancelled due to the precipitation.

And it will do so “very slowly and fed by an atmospheric river” that will bring “abundant, locally intense and widespread” rainfall over much of the country. The bad weather is also accompanied by strong gusts of wind and severe coastal phenomena such as high waves and snowfall in the north of the country. And it seems like this is just the beginning. The centre of Storm Nelson will position itself “south of the British Isles” and from there it will send one front after another and ensure a wet Semana Santa.

According to anthropologists, Semana Santa is a celebration of spring, and that is exactly what we will experience this Holy Week: spring in its full glory. A battle between the dynamics of the cold and warmer months. A battle that will result in the victory of an intense storm front of rain and wind in the coming days. The good news is that the front will provide relief from the drought but at the cost of one of the most touristy weeks of the year.

In 2023, Semana Santa “pulverised” all tourist records and occupancy figures exceeded all expectations. And given the expectation that the coming summer will be tough (with the restrictions already affecting the tourism sector of part of the country), the tourism sector – in the broadest sense of the word – hoped to make maximum use of these holidays.

An explosive result

Nelson’s fronts will be fed by a major warmer-than-normal atmospheric river. This will also bring precipitation over the entire peninsula (except the extreme southeast). More than 200 litres per square metre is expected. The forecasts are still quite uncertain, but everything indicates that the most rain will fall in “parts of Andalucia, Extremadura, the western part of the Central System and in the Montes de Toledo”. However, the area around Grazalema in the province of Cádiz (known as the wettest area in Spain) will be crucial. The models predict (until Friday) accumulations of 300 litres of precipitation per square metre.

Since Tuesday, snow and cold have been added to the rain. The presence of a cold air mass, entrained by the front, has led to a sharp and general drop in temperatures. This also resulted in a sharp decrease in the snow line. This will be between 600 m and 1000 m.

Cogesa Expats

The weather will remain stormy on Wednesday. It will be a rainy day in the west and in the centre of the peninsula, as well as in the Pyrenees area. The most abundant rainfall will be in Galicia, western Castilla y León and Extremadura. The Mediterranean regions remain mainly dry on this day.

More rain on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are marked by the passage of frontal systems from west to east. On Maundy Thursday it will rain heavily, especially in the west and central part of Spain. Heavy showers will also fall in Galicia, the west and south of Castilla y León, Extremadura and the west of Andalucia. The Mediterranean regions and the Balearic Islands will probably remain dry on Thursday.

Snow is then expected in the interior of Galicia, the Cantabrian Mountains and the Pyrenees. There will also be a general increase in temperatures. The frost will decrease in size and intensity. On Good Friday it will rain again in Extremadura, western Andalucia and the central area of the country.

Although “it never rains to everyone’s satisfaction”… this week’s rain has a bittersweet taste. It is noteworthy that just now the Valencia region is considering applying water restrictions from May due to “extraordinary drought” and also “the worst in the last 33 hydrological years”.

What about the drought?

Part of the country (especially in the northwest) is starting to fill its reservoirs: Eastern Cantabria is at 93.2%; the coast of Galicia at 92.5% and the internal basins of the Basque Country at 95.2%. Valladolid and Segovia are also above 90%. However, the east of the country continues to slide towards “zero day”. So much so that even in areas where reserves have recovered somewhat (such as Catalonia), no one wants to lift drought measures yet. As happened last week in Andalucia and just on Thursday in the Canary Islands. After years of drought, a few weeks of rain will not save the areas from all the problems.

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