2019 was the driest year in Malaga province since records began

Tourists in December at a bar on La Malagueta beach in Malaga.
Tourists in December at a bar on La Malagueta beach in Malaga. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Malaga Airport's weather centre collected only 204.6mm of rainfall in 2019, less than half the average

By the end of 2019 the rain meter at Malaga Airport, used by the Spanish weather agency Aemet as the official statistic for the province, had collected 204.6 millimetres of precipitation. This makes last year the driest since official records began, in 1942.

The total is less than half of the provincial average for a normal year, 534mm (taken from the climatological reference period of 1981 to 2010). Until 2019 the previous driest year had been 1985 with 267mm of rainfall.

These statistics take into account calendar years. However, rainfall figures are often quoted for the "water year" which would make October 1994 to September 1995 the driest 12-month period on record, when only 140.3mm fell on the province of Malaga. Heavy rains in December 1995 prevented that year from taking the driest year title.

The inland areas of Malaga province also had a dry year in 2019 - as La Viñuela reservoir figures show - but not as bad as on the coast. In fact the wet weather just before Christmas led to readings of 182mm in Pujerra (near Ronda) in just three days, the equivalent of the entire year's rainfall in Malaga city.

According to the director of Aemet in Malaga, José María Sánchez-Laulhé, this year has been particularly bad in Malaga because of the northeast winds. In fact this autumn has seen several rainy fronts, which have even caused flooding in the Antequera and Guadalhorce areas. "With the 'terral' wind the fronts have run out of humidity by the time they get here," he said, adding that the strip of mountains close to the coast explains why there is such a difference between inland and seaside areas.

The meteorologist blames this year's lack of rainfall on the Mediterranean climate's natural variability of drought periods, rather than on climate change.

Nevertheless he did say that temperatures are rising, which is a trend that can be put down to climate change. The average temperature in Malaga province in 2019 was 19.8 degrees Celsius, while the average is 18.5ºC.