Local and national authorities are assessing the damage after waves of a height of up to six metres battered the Costa del Sol last week. The rough sea left the beaches worse for wear, just two weeks before the peak Easter holiday season.
Emergency work had already started on Saturday in Marbella after the town hall earmarked a sum of 200,000 euros to get the beaches back to normal as soon as possible.
Meanwhile the tourism industry has called for more permanent action to prevent the erosion damage caused in these weather conditions, when the Levant wind from the east brings with it fierce waves.
The state meteorology office issued an amber weather warning on Tuesday and Wednesday last week and at six o'clock on Wednesday morning the weather buoy in Malaga Port recorded a height of 5.96 metres. The mean or "significant" wave height, the value used to measure the waves' destructive potential, was set by the weather office at four metres, meaning that the damage caused to beaches was not as great as originally predicted.
Nevertheless a preliminary report issued by the central government's Coasts department, known as Costas, said that beaches in Fuengirola town centre and parts of San Pedro and Estepona had suffered the worst battering from the waves.
No serious structural damage had been caused, said the report, although the beaches had suffered significant erosion, losing breadth in many areas.
The authority's final assessment of the damage will not be released until next week, however, as the yellow weather warning was still in place for Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile the owners of businesses on the affected beaches have called for immediate action, especially with the Easter holiday period just around the corner.
"We're asking Costas to replace the lost sand as soon as possible [...] and to take action on the most damaged beaches in time for Easter," said Manuel Villafaina, president of the Association of Beach Business Owners. Villafaina said on Wednesday that the impact was not as bad as it could have been as business owners had been forewarned in an email from the association. Sunbeds had been piled up near the promenades and business owners had put up sandbag barriers.
The province's fishing fleet, made up of around 250 boats, stayed in port on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ferry company Trasmediterránea cancelled services across the Strait on Tuesday, but the 3pm ferry from Malaga to Melilla sailed as planned on Wednesday.
Waves expose infrastructure
The rough seas took their toll on beaches in Marbella, San Pedro and Estepona. In Lindavista, San Pedro, the sand was washed away to expose sewage pipes. The town hall has been announcing plans to move these pipes for years, but there are archaeological remains in the area and authorisation is needed from the Junta de Andalucía. In Ventura del Mar the waves invaded the brand new pedestrian walkway and in Las Chapas rows of wooden posts set up to control the movement of the dunes have disappeared, with some of the dunes being washed away.
On Saturday, even before the damaging wind had died down completely, the council's Beach and Public Works Department had moved in to repair El Rodeíto beach. Councillors and experts from the local, regional and national authorities were due to visit the beaches on Monday.
Benalmádena and Torremolinos
Numerous beaches between Torrequebrada and La Carihuela suffered damage. Water flooded beach bars such as Maracas Beach, near the Castillo Bil Bil, on Tuesday night.
In La Carihuela the area near the Playa Miguel beach bar bore the brunt of the rough seas as the water crossed the promenade, reaching even some of the businesses further away from the shore. The forewarning from the met office and the business association prevented further damage. "When we left [on Tuesday night] we piled up 75 sandbags," said one employee.
Already damaged in autumn
At the beginning of March, the town hall sent a request to the Coasts authority warning that the central Fuengirola beach had been damaged by the weather in autumn and winter and was not wide enough to install the summer facilities. Now the sand has receded even further, said municipal sources, adding that now the town hall is going to reiterate its request for new sand before Easter.
Baños del Carmen flooded
Early on Wednesday morning the waves invaded the Baños del Carmen restaurant in Malaga city, always the first spot to suffer from rough seas. Water entered the main dining room, despite the attempts by employees to keep the place dry by putting up wooden barriers and sand bags the day before.
Other city beaches affected were Huelin, Guadalmar and El Dedo (El Palo) where council workers were brought in on Wednesday to remove sand that had been deposited by the waves on the promenades.
Malaga councillor Teresa Porras said, however, that the beaches would be in optimum condition by the start of the Easter holiday period, when thousands flock to the city to watch processions and enjoy the sunshine.
The sea meets the N-340
In the Axarquía the areas of Valle Niza and Chilches were worst hit. The sea came up as far as the main N-340 coast road, stripping the beaches of their sand. The Levant wind caused general damage on beaches from Nerja to La Cala del Moral. Sand has been washed away from La Torrecilla and El Chucho beaches in Nerja; from several stretches of the El Peñoncillo, Ferrara and El Morche beaches in Torrox; in Lagos and Mezquitilla in Vélez-Málaga; and Los Rubios and La Cala del Moral, in Rincón de la Victoria.
Experts from the different affected town councils started to assess the damage on Wednesday in order to repair the beaches in time for Easter.
Almuñécar is among towns along the Granada coastline that suffered the effects of the rough sea this week. Especially hit was Velilla beach, where sand has receded significantly. Along a 200-metre strip of beach all that could be seen on Thursday were large rocks uncovered by the waves.
What is most worrying however is the damage caused to the Velilla breakwater near the Aquatropic waterpark.
Cotobro, Marina del Este and Peña Parda beaches have also suffered from the waves as well as Velilla, said councillor Luis Aragón on Thursday.