August 5, 2021

An inevitable tragedy?

An inevitable tragedy?

The worst face of the flood took it on Tuesday night and during the early hours of Wednesday Mallorca, with 10 fatalities and a small five-year-old disappeared, by a waterspout that registered up to 233 liters per square meter. The water destroyed furniture, vehicles and left 11 roads cut, two affected bridges and more than a hundred displaced people.

After a night of intense work to locate the victims and the disappeared (there was talk of up to six) as a result of the flood that occurred in the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, the epicenter with more damage from the rains flooding a torrent , which before the rains was practically dry, the Balearic Islands and Catalonia awoke yesterday in orange alert (significant risk) before the forecast of heavy rainfall, and Malaga, in red alert (extreme risk).

But why did it occur? It was due to two phenomena. "There was and still is a DANA on the environment of Mallorca," explains Rubén del Campo, a spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet). This meteorological phenomenon, also called cold drop, usually occurs in October and November in the western Mediterranean. It consists of a bagging of cold air that causes torrential rains, low temperatures and strong gusts of wind. The second factor was "a wind flow of east component over the Mediterranean that was loaded with moisture". This situation led to a "convective train", which is nothing but "storms after storms, one after another, leaving a torrential rainfall: between four and six hours of rain recorded 233 liters per square meter in Colònia Sant Pere; in Artà, 157 liters, and in Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, the epicenter with more damage from the rains, fell 220 l / m² in 24 hours ». Very high rainfall data, especially when considering torrential rain from 60 l / m² per hour. And is that "the extraordinary rains left more than half of what it rains all autumn, which is the rainiest season," Del Campo said. So much so that "we have calculated that in Colònia Sant Pere the probability that it could rain so much in such a short time is once every 1,000 years, and in Artá, once every 80 years," he says. And in six hours a third of what usually rains in a year fell. Del Campo makes another assessment: "It rained a lot on specific points. It was a very local phenomenon, while in Còlonia Sant Pere there were 233 l / m², in Manacor, which is only 20 kilometers, 23 l / m² fell ».

The storm surprised the neighbors who could not take the proper precautions with enough time.

From «», they assure this newspaper that the «notice was raised to red level at the last minute». However, the spokesman of Aemet emphasizes that "the red alert was put on Tuesday in Mallorca. Specifically, it started with a yellow warning since there was a forecast that 20 l / m² would be registered in one hour. Then, around 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., the orange level was activated because it was foreseen that 50 l / m² would be registered in one hour and at 22:00 the red warning was raised by the forecast of more than 200 l / m2, a warning that continued until 02:00 in the morning ». At 22:42, 112 Balearic Islands reported on Twitter the first victim in Sant Llorenç.

They were not the only ones. The Government activated last night at 23:00 hours the Gravity 2 Index of the emergency plan Inunbal and activated the Firefighters of Mallorca, the Civil Guard and the GEAS, Civil Protection, Maritime Rescue and local police. Emergencies then recommended the neighbors, informs Efe, stay in the interior of the houses and asked that the children not go to school the next day in Sant Llorenç, Colónia de Sant Pere, Artà and Son Servera.

According to the experts, the damages of the magnitude of the waterspout are also due to the location of the affected towns. In fact, it should not be forgotten that in 1989 there was a great flood in the eastern part of the island. That flood left up to 250 l / m² in Picot. It also affected Sant Llorenç, Manacor, Felanitx, Campos, etc. Years later, in 2007, another flood had to be regretted, as reported by "Diario de Mallorca".

And it is that as explained by geographers and engineers, the rains that have caused serious floods in Sant Llorenç can not be avoided, but the risks, which increase due to the practice that was common in Spain during the 70s and 80s to divert natural channels from rivers and torrents for building. Thus, according to Europa Press explains the geographer and former president of the College of Geographers of Spain, Antonio Prieto, the catastrophe was due to "the torrents that have overflowed save a very strong gap in a few kilometers and has coincided that it has rained punctually very much in a basin that has agglutinated all the water towards Sant Llorenç ».


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