Society 17/07/2021

Twelve extremely dry months in eastern Catalonia

In some places it is the period with less rain since 2009

2 min
Matolls well striped in the Cordillera de Marina (Badalona). DOLORS BALLESTER.

The beginning of summer is a good time to take a look at the accumulated rainfall during the last months, which is an indicator of how dangerous the fire season can be. The variability of rainfall means that while some regions of Catalonia are in a normal situation or even favorable in terms of moisture conditions of forests, others are in conditions of extreme drought.

The bulletin of the state of droughts that Meteocat publishes monthly reveals that in some coastal and the pre-coastal regions rainfall over the last twelve months has been extremely scarce. This is especially the case of sectors of l'Empordà and Gironès, but the lack of rainfall is also very important around Barcelona and in other parts of coastal, pre-coastal and Central Catalonia. Although in the Pyrenees the conditions are in many places humid rather than dry, north of Alt Urgell there is also a group of municipalities suffering from lack of water. Precipitation is a very erratic variable.

Exceptional drought in east Catalonia

Some examples are the data from La Bisbal d'Empordà, where in the past twelve months it has rained 332 l/m2, about half the usual. Another example is Badalona, where it has only rained 250 l/m2 in twelve months, which is 45% the expected rainfall. This makes all the forests near the coast especially dry and more vulnerable to forest fires. In some of these places it is the driest twelve-month period since at least 2009, and curiously it is occurring just after one of the wettest periods of the last decade, marked by the storm Gloria but also by other rainfall events in the autumn of 2019 and spring 2020. The data of the last six months do not show such an extreme picture, but also reveal a remarkable situation of drought in eastern Catalonia.

The drought is not general and the fact that rainfall has continued to arrive normally or even with some abundance in the Pyrenees means that right now water reserves are at a much higher level than could be expected with these data. The reservoirs of the internal basins are at 86.7% capacity. Water reserves exceed 600 hm3 of water and are now 2% above the average of the last ten years.