Less beach and more sea in Pedregalejo. / salvador salas

Why was there such a bad storm on the Malaga coastline this time?

The city's harbour buoy has only registered higher waves on five occasions since 1958, but the most recent episode has been particularly damaging

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

People say it every time, but in this case it is true: this recent storm on the Costa del Sol was one of the worst ever, according to the Malaga Port Authority, which has just carried out a complete analysis of the statistics. Since records first began to be kept in 1958, the waves have only been higher and the gaps between them longer on five occasions.

We don’t need to look back very far to find the worst storm of all time in April: just five years ago to 2017, when waves rose to an average height of 4.5m and a maximum of seven metres on 20th of that month. Since records began, only five storms have been worse than the one that has just hit the Costa del Sol, although this one was one of the most damaging.

The time that passed between the crest of two waves had never been longer, at 12.5 seconds. The average height of the waves was 3.15 metres, reaching a maximum of 5.60. “This is the longest gap between waves ever recorded and it is unusual in the Mediterranean, although it is typical of the Atlantic,” say sources at the port. “This is undoubtedly why the beaches have suffered so much damage”.

José Luis Escudero, a meteorology expert who writes the Tormentas y Rayos blog on SUR.es, says the same: “What we have seen has been a very high tide and a very strong swell in the Alborán sea,” he explains.

It is also possible that the depression which formed in the Gulf of Cadiz could have contributed to the height of the waves, although it has not been confirmed. But they were still not a record. “There have been storms with higher waves, like the one in 2017 and also at the end of March 1995,” he says.