The country is experiencing one of the driest beginnings of the hydrological year of this century
Water reserves are currently at less than half of their capacity
It’s been weeks, if not months, that the rain is scarce in Spain. Between October and December, the rains added 25% less than the usual values for this time of year. In January, the global rainfall balance fell by almost half. The lack of rain in recent weeks has already left Spanish reservoirs less than half full (44.8%). And, according to forecasts, nothing indicates that the situation will recover in the near future. “No major episodes of rain are expected in the short, medium or long term,” summarizes Rubén Campos, spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET). “Everything points to us entering a warmest quarter with less rain than usual,” he adds.
Campos, with a didactic spirit, explains that the Spanish hydrological year (which encompasses the period from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the next) has begun with a significant decrease in rainfall. Y is emerging as one of the driest of this century. “January has been especially dry due, in large part, to the presence of a stable anticyclone on the peninsula. In some parts of the country it has not rained since December. And in others since the first fortnight of January”, comments the meteorologist. In the last few days, in fact, only low rainfall on the Mediterranean slope and “practically zero” on the Atlantic slope.
In Catalonia, according to data from the Meteorology Service (Meteocat), more than 70 days that in various sectors of the Pre-Pyrenees, Central Catalonia and the Pre-Coastal the rains do not accumulate more than a millimeter. In Barcelona and its metropolitan area It hasn’t rained for almost a month. In a large part of the territory, the last significant episode of rains occurred in November. On the 25th, to be exact. Since then, the lack of rainfall has been noted in practically all the regions. Between January 5 and 10 it rained extensively but scarcely, so, in practice, the hydrological scarcity is still there.
The dry spell (consecutive days with precipitation less than 1 mm) reaches 70 days in sectors of the Pre-Pyrenees, Central Catalonia and pre-coastal.
It started on November 25 and in many cases broke on January 5 or 10, when it rained extensively but little. pic.twitter.com/N3BLnSezFk
— Meteocat (@meteocat) February 3, 2022
According to the historical rainfall records in Spain, during the first quarter of rainy the normal thing is to accumulate about 300 liters per square meter. This year, during that same period, the rains have barely added 192 liters per square meter, about 35% less than usual levels. “This is the eighth driest start to a hydrological year since records began, in 1961, and the second driest of the entire 21st century“, illustrates Campos. To find a worse season, comments the expert, one would have to go back to the hydrological year of 2007-2008 (when, by the way, the continued lack of rain ended up generating one of the most severe droughts of the decade in Spain).
The short term forecasts, they explain from the State Meteorological Agency, they predict some especially dry weeks. In the next ten days, for example, heavy rains are not expected on the peninsula (except for some punctual showers distributed by several points of the territory). In Catalonia, for example, it is expected that this weekend “shy rainfall” will occur in some parts of the coast but, even so, it does not seem that this episode will improve the water shortage that has persisted for weeks.
The long-term forecast, which in meteorology covers a quarter, indicates that we are entering a few months of especially hot February, March and April, but with little rain. The state forecast indicates that the most likely, according to the data available at this time, is that the rainfall for this period will be below normal levels in much of the peninsula, except on the Mediterranean side, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. In these territories, for the moment, the prognosis is not so clear. Although, for now, it does not seem that the precipitations are going to go up. At least not in the short term.