Extreme drought ends in Portugal after second wettest March since 1931

Extreme drought ends in Portugal after second wettest March since 1931

After devastating drought which left rivers nearly dry, sparked deadly wildfires and wreaked havoc on country's agriculture, the country is now officially out of drought, officials said. The conditions started changing rapidly at the beginning of March.

Nearly all of Portugal has suffered extreme drought conditions since early 2017, which has not happened since 2005, but country's troubles with water are now officially over.

According to data provided by the Portuguese Met Office, the average rainfall in Portugal last month was 272 mm (10.7 inches), making it the second wettest March since 1931.

This is four times the monthly average, in less than 30 days, and only slightly less than the exceptional rainfall seen in March 2001.

According to a statement released by Portugal's National System for Water Resource Information on Monday, April 2, over half of Portugal's reservoirs are now at least 80%. 

Of the 60 reservoirs monitored by SNIRH, 32 are at 80% or more capacity. Only three are below 40%, compared to 23 in that state last month.

At the end of February, 84% of mainland Portugal was suffering from severe drought, but conditions started changing drastically in the first week of March when Alentejo, traditionally one of the driest regions in Portugal, received more rain in the first five days of March than it would normally expect to see during the entire month.

The Monto Novo reservoir, one of the region's largest, went from below 30% capacity on February 28 to full by March 10.

Prior to March's downpour, Portugal's agriculture sector had been bracing itself for an unproductive year, but last week Minister for Agriculture Capoulas Santos said Portugal's soil and reservoirs had now received enough rain to ensure a regular agricultural season.

National Energy Grid told the Jornal de Negocios business newspaper that March had provided the best hydropower conditions since 1971, the year it began keeping records.

Featured image credit: Ricardo Faria

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