The missing winter rain on the Costa del Sol and across Malaga province made a sudden appearance last week, bringing welcome relief to the area's gardens and farms, as well as those worried that lower-than-average levels in reservoirs could mean drought restrictions over the summer. Experts have said that the rain that has fallen over the last few days is the equivalent of a year's worth for Malaga.
New drought restrictions, which were set to be put in place in April, will not go ahead. The recent rain was gone a long way to reverse the effects of the previous five years, in which rainfall was below the regional average. The current restrictions placed on farmers will also be reconsidered.
Weather forecasters are expecting the wet weather to gradually clear up, although more rain is forecast to fall intermittently over the next few days, with a generally unsettled but mild outlook.
Over the last week the reservoirs have filled to 250 cubic hectometres, 45 more than the previous week. In Pujerra, which has experienced the wettest conditions, 251 millimetres of rain fell. For much of last week an amber weather alert was in place due to the rainfall, high winds and waves.
Near San Pedro a lorry skidded on the A-7 blocking the road for a while and in Vélez-Málaga three people became trapped in a car by a swollen river. At Malaga Airport on Thursday afternoon, eight planes were diverted to other airports due to high winds of up to 90 km/h.
The steadier nature of the rain has been welcomed, giving time for it to soak into the ground and not run off, say experts. By Thursday night, La Concepción reservoir near Marbella and La Viñuela in the Axarquía had benefitted, and the Guadalhorce reservoir has increased by 23 cubic hectometres. In La Concepción and La Viñuela, the heavy rains have helped to reduce the threat of a severe drought, but they have not been solved completely, and could still benefit from further rain.
The harsh weather conditions led to several incidents in Malaga province over the weekend, especially in Axarquía and the western Costa del Sol. A couple and their baby had to be rescued after they became trapped in their vehicle at a flooded crossing in Estepona. Jorge de Amuedo has a particularly close shave after he and his car became trapped in the raging waters of the normally empty Rio Seco. Fortunately, he was aided by his neighbours, who rescued him using ropes. His Mercedes GLK was not so lucky.
On Saturday six litres fell per cubic metre in Malaga, a marked decrease from Thursday. However, Aemet has predicted that the rest of the week will still see considerable amounts of rain over the entire province.