A LEADING climatologist believes tempests such as the deadly storm Gloria are likely to hit with increasing frequency due to climate change.
Jorge Olcina, president of the Spanish Geographers’ Association, said the four record-breaking ‘gota fria’ events that rocked the country over the past 12 months were directly linked to changes in the North Atlantic jet stream.
He explained that this fast-flowing current of air is beginning to ‘circulate’ at much lower altitudes – instead of moving in a ‘straight line’ from west to east – and sending unusual pockets of polar air across Europe.
“This process is directly related to global warming, which is most intensely felt in the Arctic Basin,” Olcina told the Olive Press.
“We need to get used to storms like Gloria, which will hit us with increasing frequency.
“The only thing we can do is better prepare ourselves to resist the torrential rains and winds.”
Olcina said the four ‘gota fria’ events that first hit Eastern Spain in April, September, October and now January were all caused by cold polar air meeting with the warm, humid Med air.
The storm that hit in April was the largest Easter storm for 73 years, while September saw the worst flooding in 140 years in Alicante.
Meanwhile, Storm Gloria – which claimed at least 13 lives – was declared the worst winter storm since 1983.
One beachfront home owner at Denia’s Les Deveses beach, which lost up to 50m of sand according to satellite imagery, said the January destruction was ‘unprecedented’.
“I’ve only been here 18 years, but we’ve spoken to people who were born here, and they’ve never seen anything like it,” Guillermo Lluc told the Olive Press.
“It is obviously to do with climate change. If you can’t see it, you’re blind,” he added.