La Viñuela reservoir / ÑITO SALAS

Malaga is facing its driest year since records began

Only 14.5 per cent of the average amount of rain has fallen, the worst figure in 80 years

IGNACIO LILLO

The province is facing its worst drought since records began in 1942, according to Aemet’s Meteorological Centre in Malaga.

In Spain, the hydrological year begins on 1 October of one year and ends on 30 September of the next year, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. This period is used to measure wet cycles which are key for planning and managing increasingly scarce resources.

From 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022, just 49.8 litres per square metre (l/m2) has been recorded. The average for the same period 1980 to 2010 is 344 l/m2. This means that only 14.5 per cent of the average amount of rain has fallen, the worst figure in 80 years.

The second worst start of the hydrological year was 2013 to 2014 with 84.3 l/m2. It was followed by 1994 to 1995, one of the worst droughts in memory. Other years of notable drought include 1985 to 1986 and 1966 to 1967.

"Rainfall is well below average values," said Jesús Riesco, who was recently appointed director of Aemet in Malaga after the retirement of José María Sánchez-Laulhé. February, which is also traditionally wet, is not expected to bring much rain because of a prevailing anticyclone, he added.

"We are in a period of rainfall below normal but within the natural variability of the Mediterranean climate,” Riesco said, noting that 2019 to 2020 was well below average while the hydrological year before that was wetter and that 2010 to 2011 was "extraordinarily wet.”

There is still hope for March. “An episode may appear that recovers part of the deficit, we still cannot anticipate what will happen but in a couple of rainy spring episodes it could be recovered,” added Riesco.