January 2017 extreme weather

The drought in Alicante and the south/east Spain Mediterranean area appears to be over, with the high rainfall values of December 2016 and January 2017 producing more than average annual precipitation.  The rains of December produced more than the average annual amount within a few days.  An even greater amount in January secures the regions aquifers and has recharged the reservoirs.  Why does torrential rain fall?

Jorge Olcina of the University of Alicante explains the “Gota Fria”


In an article in Información on 21 January, Jorge Olcina explained that the weather was caused by the arrival of Polar cold air in the atmosphere: -35 degrees at 5000 metres.  This clashing with warm air from Africa caused a storm in the Sea of Alboran (between Morocco and Spain) which sent storms of torrential rainfall and high winds northwards hitting our region with wild weather, twelve hours of thunder and lightning.

Not only rain has fallen but a significant amount of snow: in the mountains of the Sierra Aitana and Sierra Bernia, as may be expected, but unusually the snow has spread down from high altitude to the beaches of Costa Blanca.

The consequences in the region have been quite catastrophic, with numerous landslides and flooding.  The following photographs show the extent of the damage to one road (after the landslides had been cleared away by diggers).  This stretch of mountain road between Orxeta and Sella had twelve landslides and took two days to clear.