THE Valencians have a saying: Plou poc, però, pel poc que plou, plou prou, which roughly translated means It doesn’t rain much, but, considering how little it rains, it really pours. Generally, this holds true, however, given the endless rain in March, April and what we’ve seen so far in May, perhaps the refrain needs updating.
Even by Valencia’s standards, yesterday’s rainfall was somewhat unprecedented. To find something similar we have to go back more than 150 years. According to data from the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), in Valencia Tuesday 3rd May was the day with the highest accumulated rainfall in a single day in May since 1871.
In fact, according to Valencia City Council, we are facing a meteorological phenomenon that has broken all records of rain accumulation in what is called “the meteorological spring”, which includes the months of March, April and May. AEMET data shows that since 3 March the city of Valencia has accumulated 488.6 l/m², a figure higher than the normal value for a whole year, which stands at 474.9 l/m².
Five tunnels closed
Firefighters and police officers were kept busy throughout the night, dealing with the immense amounts of water which had flooded basements and homes, especially in the Malva–rosa, Cabanyal and Nazaret areas of the city.
The video in the Tweet below shows firefighters in Paterna, another of the badly-hit areas during the storm, rescuing a stranded ambulance driver and then a woman near the station area of the town.
Valencia’s deputy mayor and councillor for Urban Ecology, Sergi Campillo, said: “The city is prepared for this amount of rain, but it is clear that in the lower areas….there is some flooding”. He added: “despite the rainfall, the city’s sewage and drainage system worked perfectly, which has allowed normality to return quickly”. In fact, by early Thursday morning all Metro lines were operating normally and the road tunnels that had been closed the night before had reopened.
Meanwhile, the Polytechnic University cancelled all its Wednesday classes as did the municipal council for all schools in Rocafort. However, Valencia University opened as normal but didn’t penalise students unable to come to class for exams or other evaluated lessons.
Historic river course
Water will always find a way back to its natural route and as such the Río Turia returned to its ancient riverbed through the centre of the city for one night. The photo clearly shows water filling the rivebed from side to side and only the top few inches of the outdoor exercise machines can be seen pocking out above the water.
For one night Valencia also had two rivers as the ‘new’ route, where the river was eventually diverted in 1973, also filled to accommodate the rainwater. Normally the wide man-made river bed that runs between the two lanes of the V-30 is pretty empty with just a trickle of water along the bottom, leaving plenty of space on the large walls on either side for graffitied messages of undying love and romantic anniversaries. However, the sheer quantity of Tuesday night’s rainfall has reignited an old debate over whether or not the new riverbed should be refurbished so that people can use it for walking and exercising as some groups have proposed.
Are we seeing the effects of climate change?
For his part, councillor for Climate Emergency, Alejandro Ramon, said: “We are witnessing how climate change is not something that will come in the future but is already present, with extreme weather phenomena”. He added: “Beyond the records recorded yesterday there are episodes of storms like Glòria that are affecting us more and more, just as we are suffering in Valencia and in the Mediterranean from increasingly high temperatures and increasingly intense tropical nights”.