... it POURS! :o(
Welcome to the meteorological event known locally as the Gota Fría, or "cold drop". It's a weather phenomenon that happens every few years along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and one that has everyone on edge every year when September morphs into October. Basically it's this huge rain storm... of the kind that drops more water in a couple of hours than we typically get in a whole year! It happens in years when the atmospheric temperatures drop much faster than the sea temperature (i.e. when the air cools down quickly but the sea is still warm). Very humid warm air at the sea's surface rises and cools too quickly when it reaches the cooler layers of the atmosphere, resulting in an intense rainfall accompanied by high winds. In many areas this also results in flashfloods along usually dry riverbeds...
|Meteosat's satellite image Friday Sept 28|
|Bridge on the A-7, image from rtve.es|
This year the consequences in Alicante itself weren't too bad since we'd already had an afternoon and a night of "light" rain which moistened the hard ground making it capable of absorbing some of the storm rain. In other years when it hasn't rained before a "gota fría" the ground is so dry and hard it can't absorb any water (acts like concrete!) and the water just rushes along downhill... But in the southern part of the province there was some serious flooding, and in Murcia (100km south of us) a section of the highway (a bridge) fell apart and in some towns homes are destroyed and people dead. So again, we got lucky in Alicante. (Our last really bad one was on Sept 30th 1997, I was "trapped" up on Campus and couldn't get home).
When you watch it all from the safety of home it's quite mesmerising really... I spent a long time just leaning at the window listening to the rain and trying to make out any sign of Alicante or the Mediterranean through the curtain of water.
That and watching the swirling water in the street below us...
It was amazing how, once the storm neared its end, the rain cleared up quite quickly! Just leaving us with signs if run-off in the nearby beach (muddy waters) and gorgeous skies over the castle:
|Alicante = Mexico! (from diarioinformacion.com)|
Oh, and this is what one of our beaches (the Albufereta) looked like on Saturday:
In fact, that happens almost EVERY time we have a big rainstorm (they just keep rebuilding the beach). Why does this beach keep getting destroyed by the storms? Because it's at the mouth of a dry riverbed! Once upon a time (as in when the Romans lived here) this used to be a small bay where a river met the sea, with a Roman harbour and a Roman settlement on a nearby hill. Weather patterns changed, dams were built... the river dried up, the beach formed, and that was that! Except whenever there's a heavy rainstorm (and not just during a Gota Fría) the water finds its way back down the river bed... and during a Gota Fría, well it's much worse! In 1997 this bridge was under water...
We needed rain in Alicante... but not that much all at once! On the plus side for me, we had beautiful skies as a result and Sunday's hike (more on that another day) was absolutely gorgeous!!! ;o)