A 25-year-old British man was among four people reported missing as the worst weather for almost 40 years swept through eastern Spain last month. At least ten people died as Storm Gloria battered the Balearic Islands, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante for several days before moving north into France.
Ben Garland from Wiltshire was feared to have been swept out to sea after he failed to return from riding his motorcycle around the north of Ibiza. Waves were reported to be up to 13.5 metres in height as wind speeds reached 144 kph. Searchers later found Mr Garland’s bike abandoned in the remote Portinatx area of Sant Joan de Labritja at the northernmost point of the island.
In Almería one man was killed by hailstones while a body was found in an Alicante river. In Valencia a homeless man died in the cold, and another fatality was recorded in Alcoy when heavy rainfall caused a building to collapse.
On January 21, Madrid declared a “climate emergency” while the Foreign Office in London issue an “extreme risk” warning to British tourists in eight Spanish provinces. Others, including Granada, were reported to be on “high alert.” The UK meteorological office warned of dangerous conditions in southern France.
Infrastructure and transport were badly affected as airports, railways and roads were closed by high winds and hours of heavy snowfalls inland causing power supply failures in several areas. While flooding was reported in many towns, the resort of Tossa del Mar on the Costa Brava found its streets inundated by waist-high sea foam, a natural phenomenon caused by the agitation of organic matter in sea water.
Locally, the coast received heavy rainfall although a light covering snow was reported from Mijas, On January 23, the city of Málaga woke to an unusual covering of white caused by a heavy hailstorm.
As Soltalk went to press, municipalities were assessing the trail of damage and destruction left in the wake of the severe weather, and how much repairs are likely to cost. Storm Gloria is set to be confirmed as the worst in Spain since 1982.