Spain sizzles as flash floods hit Greece

  • Synoptic chart from 12z on Tuesday 6th September, showing high pressure extending across much of NW and Central Europe, with hot air being drawn northwards into Iberia. A cut off low pressure system can be seen over southern Italy, giving torrential downpours and thunderstorms. Source: Wetterzentrale.

    Maximum temperatures across central and southern Spain on 5th September. Image: MeteoGroup.

    Maximum temperatures across central and southern Spain on 6th September. Image: MeteoGroup.

    Lightning activity across Greece and Italy in the 24 hours to 18:50 Wednesday 7th September. Image: MeteoGroup.

  • Spain sizzles as flash floods hit Greece
    08.09.2016 15:25


    The start of meteorological autumn has kicked off with some unseasonable heat and humidity across parts of the UK, with temperatures reaching a high of 29.3C at Gravesend on Wednesday. The culprit has been a north-eastward extension of the subtropical high pressure system over the Azores, which has led to the import of some very warm air from the south. But while conditions may have been a little uncomfortable at home, temperatures across the Iberian Peninsula have soared to unprecedented levels for September.

    Earlier this week, the arrival of air from north Africa caused the mercury soar into the mid-forties across southern Spain and Portugal, setting a new European high temperature for September. At Córdoba Airport in Andalusia, 45.1C was recorded on Monday, eclipsing the previous record of 44.2 set in the Portuguese city of Evora. This was then surpassed again by Tuesday’s high of 45.4C, also recorded at Córdoba Airport. Higher temperatures have been reported from unofficial stations nearby, including 46.4C at Sanlucar La Mayor, and are awaiting verification. The heat has not only been confined to the mainland, with the island of Ibiza recording its highest temperature of any month on Monday. The hot, dry conditions and brisk winds contributed to the spread of forest fires along the Costa Blanca earlier this week, forcing 1,400 people to evacuate from their homes and hotels. More than 300 firefighters were deployed to tackle the fires, which have since been brought under control.

    The exceptional heat across Spain has contrasted sharply with conditions further east across the Mediterranean. As high pressure has built across north-eastwards across Western and Central Europe. A trough of low pressure has been forced southwards into Italy and the Balkans. This system has become slow moving over the past few days, and fuelled by the warm waters of the Mediterranean, it has produced some violent thunderstorms and torrential downpours across Greece in particular. 200mm of rain reportedly fell in just a few hours in Laconia on Wednesday morning, with waterspouts observed off the west coast. The resulting flash floods have caused destruction up and down the country, washing cars out to sea and claiming three lives in Kalamata.

    Back in the UK, a cooler and more unsettled spell is on the way after the recent heat and humidity. Some heavy rain will sink south-eastwards across many areas through Friday and Saturday, and winds will strengthen with gusts reaching 70mph across the far north-west of Scotland. However, this autumnal interlude looks likely to be short lived, with temperatures returning to the high twenties in south-east Britain early next week.

    By: Billy Payne