Severe weather in eastern and southern Spain during the middle of September left six dead and damage running into millions of Euros. The regions of Alicante and Murica were worst hit, but parts of western Andalucía were also affected.
Torrential downpours began on September 11 and created conditions not seen for well over a century, causing rivers to burst their banks flooding towns and villages and displacing thousands of residents. First estimates suggested that over 300 hectares of prime agricultural land had been left under water.
Worst hit communities included Ontinyent in Valencia where 250 mm of rain fell in 12 hours, about 10 times more than average for September, and Orihuela in Alicante which was cut off by floods for three days.
A brother and sister died in Caudete, 100 kilometres south of Valencia, when their car was swept away by flood water while a man drowned in Almería when he drove into a flooded underpass. A 36-year-old man died in Granada after his car became submerged in mud and water, and others, aged 41 and 58, died in separate incidents near Orihuela in Alicante.
Over 1,100 military personnel were deployed in Murcia and Valencia to rescue residents and help with evacuations, while the airports at Almería and Murcia were both closed for a time, and rail services were heavily disrupted. Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, visited the worst hit areas and later said that the government would help with repairs to many of the material damages, “caused by this extraordinary meteorological phenomenon.”
As the storm moved west into Andalucía, it created flash flooding in Alhaurín el Grande, washing away a dozen cars, while the city of Sevilla closed all public parks as heavy rain threatened the area. In the Axarquía, 45 families were stranded in an area between Benajarafe and Chilches after part of their access road was washed away by floods, while seven people were rescued in Vélez-Málaga after being trapped in homes and vehicles by flood water.
Insurers have estimated that around 800 people suffered storm damage in other Málaga towns including Cártama, Coín, Alhaurín de la Torre, Torremolinos and Villanueva del Trabuco. They say damage in this province alone will total about €4 million.
In both provinces of Málaga and Granada, the strong winds damaged avocado and mango production leaving thousands of kilos of fruit on the ground. Farmers say they expect to incur a significant economic hit.
The regional government has released €774 million for repairs in Almeria, Granada and Malaga, of which much will to go directly to town halls, while Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has donated €200,000 to help victims of the storms. Meanwhile at least one town hall has warned of unauthorised raffle tickets being sold illegally, supposedly to raise more cash for helping them.
Spain’s national weather agency AEMET said it had been the most devastating storm since 1879, when floodwaters killed over 1,000 in Murcia and Orihuela. The end of summer is often marked by storms on Spain’s eastern coast thanks to a phenomenon known as “la gota fria” (the cold drop) or DANA (isolated high altitude depression). This occurs when warm air saturated with water from the Mediterranean rises to form huge columns of cloud.
Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, visited the worst hit areas and later said that the government would help with repairs to many of the material damages, “caused by this extraordinary meteorological phenomenon.”
Over 1,100 military personnel were deployed in Murcia and Valencia to rescue residents and help with evacuations.