Winter Season of Storms in Spain Followed by the Driest Spring in the Last 15 Years

Winter Season of Storms in Spain Followed by the Driest Spring in the Last 15 Years

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Spain Country Manager Wendy Paredes

During the last year, in Spain and throughout the world, the impact of climate change has been made increasingly evident by a series of consequential meteorological phenomena. The following is a meteorological report on climate change for 2021 in Spain.

Spain extreme weather events in 2021

The first storm of the year—formed on January 5—was Filomena, with wind and persistently heavy rains at sea in the Canary Islands, southern Andalusia, and Ceuta. Most notably was the historical snowfall that occurred in the interior of the peninsula, accumulating up to 20 inches of snow in Madrid and in other areas of the center and east. After Filomena disappeared, the rainfall stopped, the skies cleared, and a cold wave began, which can also be considered historic due to the cold temperatures that were reached.

The second storm of the year, Gaetan, began on January 18 and it was reported with orange warnings by the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET for its acronym in Spanish). Gaetan presented gusts of wind and coastal rain in the zone of Galicia to Navarra.

Hortense, the third storm of the year, began not long after no January 20 and was formed within an intense zonal flow that crossed the Atlantic, being part of a “storm train” that in a period of just four days traveled the north of the peninsula at high speed. Hortense’s main characteristic was the formation in its bosom of an intense and lasting squall line. Over several hours in the morning, the storm crossed the northeast of the peninsula and the Balearic Islands, leaving gusts of wind of up to 112 m/h in Panticosa in many other places on the Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

Ignacio was part of the “train of storms” that traveled very quickly in just five days; it was the last of the series, after Gaetan and Hortense. Ignacio formed on January 22 with wind gusts and coastal phenomena of an orange level. As it passed through the north of Spain, Ignacio was a storm still in the process of formation, almost indistinguishable from the intense zonal flow in which it was immersed.

The storm Justine affected the Spanish Peninsula, both due to coastal phenomena, which gave rise to warnings of a red level in the Cantabrian Sea, as well as very strong gusts of wind in various areas of the Peninsula. Justine formed on January 26 and it was the fifth storm of January alone, the maximum number in a month to date.

Karim formed on February 17 and was the sixth of the year. It had gusts of wind with persistent rains and coastal phenomena that mainly affected Galicia. Karim was immersed within a great Atlantic trough, and from the moment of its maximum intensity it followed a route in a north direction across the Atlantic that separated it from the Peninsula.

The storm Lola was formed on April 21, affecting the Azores islands, both by gusts of wind of 80 m/h and by waves of 20 to 22 feet. After passing through the Azores it slowly made its way to the European continent, remaining almost stationary to the west of the Spanish Peninsula for several days until its near dissolution and integration into a larger lowland. Lola is the last storm registered so far this year in Spain.

Spain also is experiencing the driest spring in the last fifteen years. This spring had a warm character in the whole of the country. Eight of the ten warmest springs since 1961 have occurred in the 21st century. This year’s astronomical summer is drier than usual in the northwest of the peninsula and warmer than normal in all of Spain, especially further south. In fact, this was the seventh consecutive summer with temperatures higher than the average. Central, and most likely southern, Europe are heading for the warmer-than-normal summer trend. Spain had the fourth driest spring since the start of the historical series in 1961, and the second driest of the 21st century, next to 2005.

It is evident how climate change has led to changes in the frequency and severity of these extreme events in Spain. For this reason, the reduction of disaster risks associated with weather and climate is increasingly associated with adaptation to climate change. Spain has created the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (PNACC) that is intended to coordinate action against the effects of climate change. The PNACC’s main objectives are to avoid or reduce the present and future damages derived from climate change and to build a more resilient economy and society. Spain also has a Disaster Risk Management Framework, which contains an organizational framework for disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change in Spain

Additionally, Spain has a National Plan for Preventive Actions on the effects of excess temperatures on health, which is activated every summer, between the months of June and September. The Plan establishes measures to reduce the effects associated with excessive temperatures.


Valvanera María Ulargui Aparicio, General Director of the Spanish Office for Climate Change

Telephone: 91 597 68 44


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