The rains are expected to arrive across Spain this Thursday. EFE
How much rain is needed this autumn and winter to end the drought in Spain?
Drought crisis

How much rain is needed this autumn and winter to end the drought in Spain?

Weather experts have calculated exactly how much rain needs to fall in the coming months in order to alleviate the country's drought by next summer, but will it come?

José Antonio Guerrero


Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 17:48


A record amount of rain will need to fall in the coming months if Spain is to have any hope of alleviating its drought crisis by next summer.

Despite forecasters predicting a warmer than usual autumn, a lot more rain will need to fall. According to state weather agency (Aemet), some 230mm more than usual would have to rain down on the country's driest terrain between now and March to overcome the water deficit before next summer. But that has only happened once since 1961, Aemet spokesperson Rubén del Campo pointed out.

"In order to overcome the drought situation which we find ourselves in, we would have to have a very rainy autumn and winter, one of the two wettest in history," he said.

12% less water

In a press conference on Monday, Del Campo presented results of the country's hydrological year: which began on 1 October 2022 and ended on 30 September.

Spain closed the 2022-23 hydrological year with a severe water deficit. A total of 560mm fell in inland Spain, when the normal figure is 640, 12% less, Del Campo pointed out. According to the figures, this past hydrological year has been the 12th driest since 1961, and the sixth driest of the 21st century.

Del Campo said the distribution of rainfall has been "uneven", with above-normal rainfall in Galicia, the Cantabrian coast, the Pyrenees and the area around the Central and Iberian mountain ranges. It has been particularly dry in Andalucía, Catalonia and the Canary Islands, with areas of the archipelago barely registering 50mm.

The drought has had repercussions in all of Spain's river basins, especially in the Ebro, Catalonia and Andalucía areas. It is the longest drought in history for the Guadiana, Guadalquivir and Southern basins, which have been in deficit since the spring of 2016.

Rains are on the way

Del Campo said people in Spain could expect warmer weather than usual for November, December and January, as well as more rain. "There is more than a 70% probability that it will be a three-month period with above-normal temperatures. As far as rainfall is concerned, there is more uncertainty. But the most likely scenario, with a 40-50% probability, that it will be wetter than normal in most of the mainland".

The rain is forecast to arrive as early as this week on Thursday with rainfall expected across the whole country. "More than 40mm could fall in a large part of southern Galicia, central Spain, Extremadura, western Castile-La Mancha, Andalucía and around the Pyrenees," Del Campo said.

Record temperatures in October

The first fortnight of October has been 4.8 degrees warmer than normal, Del Campo pointed out. It is the warmest first fortnight of October since 1961. According to the Aemet spokesperson, from 28 September to 9 October "we had 11 record warm days, that is, all those days were the warmest for that date since at least 1950. An extraordinary situation, with temperatures typical of the end of August rather than October".

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