Extreme rainfall in southern Spain: A century record broken, massive disruptions reported
Southern Spain, including Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia, experienced record-breaking rainfall since May 23, 2023, leading to severe flash flooding, widespread damage, and forcing many schools to close. The extreme weather event, which hasn’t been seen in a hundred years, particularly affected the areas of Murcia, Almería, and Alicante, with Ontinyent recording 127.4 mm (5 inches) of rain in just twelve hours.
Southern Spain was put on high alert on Tuesday, May 23, as record-breaking rainfall swept across the region, causing flash flooding and widespread disruption. The extreme weather event forced the closure of schools in over 30 municipalities, primarily in the areas of Murcia, Almería, and Alicante.
Parts of the region received as much as 140 mm (5.51 inches) in just 8 hours while a weather station in La Alcayna registered a staggering 87.9 mm (3.4 inches) in just 1 hour.
The Emergency Coordination Centre of the Region of Murcia responded to a total of 117 incidents related to the rains in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Most of these incidents occurred in the Mazarrón and the Campo de Cartagena areas and included flash flooding and rescues of people trapped in vehicles.
Cartagena and Mazarrón were put on red alert from four in the morning, with a forecast of “extreme risk of accumulated precipitation in one hour of up to 61 mm (2.4 inches)”. In response to the extreme weather conditions, the General Directorate of Emergencies of the Autonomous Community activated level 0 of the Special Civil Protection Plan against the Risk of Floods for the entire region of Murcia at 05:30 LT on Tuesday.
The heavy rainfall also disrupted train services between Cartagena and Murcia, and the Hospital de Rosell in Cartagena was flooded. The president of the regional government, Fernando López Miras, announced on Monday night that teaching activity in universities and all educational centers in 14 municipalities would be suspended.
In the Valencia region, classes were canceled in all educational centers in a total of 21 municipalities, mostly in the province of Alicante.
The State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) predicted episodes of intense rain with peaks of 40 mm (1.57 inches) in just one hour. The municipalities of Elche, Torrevieja, and Orihuela closed schools on Tuesday due to an orange alert for strong gusts of wind, heavy rain, and adverse meteorological conditions.
The extreme rainfall also set a record for the month of May, with Ontinyent recording 127.4 mm (5 inches) within just twelve hours, a figure not seen in a hundred years.
1 Heavy rain causes flash flooding across southern Spain – The Local – May 23, 2023
Featured image: AMETSE (stillshot)
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