Torrential storms cause flooding, stranded drivers and traffic chaos

COLLAPSED walls, uprooted trees and flooded basements. Residents in towns around Valencia have been clearing up after some of the heaviest rainfall for years which has also caused chaos on the region’s roads.

A fallen tree blocks a road in l’Eliana (Juan Ignacio Alfonso)

An October which saw the hottest temperatures on record, coupled with a shortage of rainfall, has been followed by a November deluge which started in the early hours of Saturday morning (12 November) and were of equally unprecedented proportions.

The city of Valencia itself escaped the heaviest of the rainfall while the areas worst hit were the towns to the north and west of the city in the l’Horta and Camp de Túria areas, causing chaos in towns like Benaguasil, Líria, Roba-roja and l’Eliana. Benaguasil recorded 149.5 litres of rainfall per square metre, while in Torrent 150L was measured.

Valencia’s firefighters were busy with more than 50 call-outs during the day because of the rainfall, rescuing several stranded drivers, removing fallen trees and even airlifting workers from an electronics warehouse in Quart de Poblat (see the video in the Tweet below)

All that water has to go somewhere and find its way to the sea, which it does via the ‘new’ river bed. Many readers will have driven along the CV-30 and wondered why such a huge river bed is needed for such a tiny trickle of water? Today’s rainfall demonstrates exactly why it’s necessary and these photos published by AEMET show one of the few times the riverbed is full.

The ‘new’ Túria River fills following torrential rains in the Camp de Túria (AEMET)

Record sea temperatures and storms could be linked

During the summer, the Mediterranean sea broke records for the highest recorded surface water temperature, with a high of 29.7ºC on 7 August. With unprecedented high air temperatures in October, the sea has also remained warm, with many beachgoers enjoying a dip in the unseasonably warm waters well into what is technically autumn.

One weather expert, Rubén del Campo, commented on Twitter: “November 2022 has already broken several rainfall records at Valencia airport, both in terms of intensity and quantity. All within a storm that, in principle, seemed to be normal.” He asked: “Could sea water 3 to 4 ºC warmer than normal have had anything to do with it?”

The Spanish meteorological agency, AEMET, replied: “We always say in summer, a warm sea does not necessarily mean torrential rain, but if the right atmospheric configuration is in place, a warm sea means more available energy and more powerful convection and storms.

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