The western Costa and the Guadalhorce valley were hit by severe downpours this week, with heavy rainfall on Wednesday adding to water on the ground from a day earlier. While there was widespread damage and disruption, fortunately the Costa del Sol didn’t suffer the scale of destruction or loss of life seen in Mallorca this week.
The record-breaking local rainfall was set off by a pocket of cold air rolling in from the north east. On the Sierra Bermeja mountains, behind Estepona, almost 250mm of rain fell in 24 hours, while Ojén had 174mm in the first half of Wednesday. In Coín, rainfall was 174mm in just twelve hours, with other high numbers registered in the hills behind Malaga.
Marbella and San Pedro were especially hard hit as the rain falling before breakfast time on Wednesday came just as the area was recovering from the effects of Tuesday lunchtime’s downpour. The ease with which part of the local road network in Marbella and San Pedro, including some trunk roads, collapsed on both days drew criticism.
The drive to work on Wednesday was difficult for many commuters in the Marbella area after the early-morning downpour. On top of causing floods and landslips which blocked access roads for a time, the rain damaged street furniture and the resort’s beaches.
A-7 gridlocked for 20 kilometres
There was a 20-kilometre holdup on the A-7 coastal motorway westbound from La Cala de Mijas due to debris on the road near La Cañada shopping centre. Traffic wasn’t back to normal until almost lunchtime.
That traffic jam caused a bottleneck and tailbacks on the AP-7 toll road as drivers tried to find an alternative route. Nor was access into the resort via the Marbella arch possible until 10am on Wednesday due to the flooding there.
There was disruption in other streets in the town and some outlying estates lost power in the early morning.
Main roads were also cut off in Ojén and Casares, with many other incidents reported in other upland towns and villages of Malaga province as streams burst their banks, flooding streets and buildings. In Monda, parts of homes fell into the river.
As elsewhere on the coast, beaches in Estepona were littered with plant debris and rubbish that had flowed down from the mountains.
Guadalhorce valley affected
The Guadalhorce valley did not escape serious risk either. The iron bridge in Estación de Cártama had to be closed on Wednesday morning as the river Guadalhorce swelled almost to bursting point, while in nearby Alhaurín el Grande earlier rain on Tuesday evening had caused some cars to be swept away, reports said.
Farmers in the Guadalhorce valley welcomed the rain, despite some damage to farms alongside the river. Once again they criticised the failure to keep dry stream beds clear of vegetation and rubbish, which increases damage when these are swept downstream in heavy rain.
Second day of rain
It was a case of second day in a row for Marbella municipality with Wednesday’s chaos. Rain came midday on Tuesday as well, with over 60mm falling in Marbella and over 100mm in neighbouring Ojén. The worst affected area on Tuesday was the centre of San Pedro which saw flooding for a time on main avenues.
Twelve callouts were made by emergency services in San Pedro for flooding in properties and the tunnel under the A-7 at Guadalmina was waterlogged with some vehicles trapped.
Marbella council ordered all underpasses on the A-7 between Cabopino and Nueva Andalucía to be closed as a precaution and there were tailbacks at various points on this busy road on Tuesday, in addition to those on Wednesday morning.
Also on Tuesday the body of a man, thought to be a rough sleeper, was found floating in the water near the Puente Romano hotel.
Emergency Marbella funds
The mayor of Marbella, reacting to the heavy rain and local criticism, especially in San Pedro, that roads had become blocked too easily, made one million euros available for quick repairs to flood damage in the municipality and promised a plan to repair damaged beaches, where much sand was swept away.
The incidents caused by heavy rain had started on Tuesday morning when the old N-340 coastal road in Benajarafe near Vélez-Málaga, east of Malaga was flooded when a stream burst its banks.