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First autumn storm leaves its mark on the Costa del Sol with flash floods and lightning strikes

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The heavy rain left its mark on Malaga city on Wednesday morning. / SUR

  • Some 1,200 bolts of lightning were recorded in Malaga in just two hours on Wednesday morning

Heavy rain, thunder and lightning awoke much of the Costa del Sol and Malaga on Wednesday morning, as a cold front, following in the wake of Hurricane Ophelia, broke the high pressure cycle which had been over Spain for the best part of a month, bringing with it thunderstorms and flash floods.

Aemet, the Spanish meteorological agency, put a amber weather warning in place until Thursday morning.

According to figures from Aemet, 15 litres per square metre fell in just ten minutes in Malaga port, rising to 26 litres in 45 minutes, on Wednesday during an electrical storm which saw 1,200 bolts of lightning recorded between 6.30 and 8.30am in the Alboran Sea area, affecting much of the Costa del Sol and Axarquía.

Power cuts

The majority of Torremolinos had to go without electricity for several hours while four Cercanías trains on the Fuengirola-Malaga were brought to a standstill during morning rush hour because of the lack of power.

Power cuts were also registered in Marbella, Mijas, Fuengirola and Benalmádena on the Costa del Sol, as well as in inland areas such as Alhaurín de la Torre and Alhaurín el Grande.

Two men rescued

The road between Benaoján and Jimena de Líbar was closed because of falling rocks.

The road between Benaoján and Jimena de Líbar was closed because of falling rocks. / SUR

The emergency services responded to 70 incidents throughout the province, though the most serious occurred in Malaga and Torrox.

In the first case, a fisherman was rescued after slipping and falling into the water at Malaga port. An eyewitness reported the incident to the Guardia Civil who transferred him to hospital where he was given the all-clear.

In the Axarquía town of Torrox, another man had to be rescued from his vehicle which became trapped by the swelling of a stream.

Road closures

The timing of the storm meant that the school run was affected with flash floods, as well as fallen branches, blocking roads and slowing traffic.

In the municipality of Benaoján, the town hall urged caution after the heavy rain caused rocks, including one large boulder, to fall onto the road, blocking access to Jimera de Líbar in the Guadiaro valley.

Caminito closed

The heavy rainfall also caused the temporary closure of the Caminito del Rey walkway in El Chorro.

According to a spokesman for the company running the attraction, Hermanos Campano, the decision was taken because “the safety of visitors couldn’t be guaranteed”.

This is not unusual, however, as the walk is also closed during periods of strong winds or high temperatures.

“Visitors who were unable to enjoy the experience today have two months to swap their tickets for another day,” he said on Wednesday.

A foul stench

In Malaga city, many residents in the Bailén-Miraflores, Huelin and El Palo districts noted bad smells after the flash flooding forced the sewerage systems to exceed capacity.

In these areas, the drainage is yet to be updated to meet modern standards so raw sewage and water drainage are transported by the same network of piping. As a result, some parts of the city experienced human excrement spilling into the streets.

The sun returns

By Thursday morning, however, the cold front cleared the province with temperatures rising once more and a return to the mild autumn experienced so far.

Between Friday and Sunday, the highs will return to around 28 degrees Celsius throughout the area.