3 Jul, 2024 @ 09:24
1 min read

Spain tsunami warning: Experts say deadly weather phenomenon will hit the country by this date – with multiple coasts at risk

EXPERTS predict that Spain is ever more likely to be hit by a tsunami, attributed to the region’s proximity to tectonic plate boundaries.

According to a study titled ‘Probabilistic Tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea’, the Alboran Sea is one of the areas off the Spanish coast that experiences the highest levels of seismic activity, and could cause massive waves that would hit the coasts of Valencia, Malaga or the Balearic Islands. 

The reason for this risk is the Averroes fault, located near the Island of Alboran, roughly halfway between the Malaga coast and North Africa. 

A major undersea earthquake at this fault could cause waves of up to six metres in height and would reach the Spanish coast in a time frame of 21 to 35 minutes, according to a report in Spanish newspaper La Razon.

Read more: Heat warnings in Spain: Highs of 38C in the south this week as weather experts predict a very hot July

The town of Chipiona in Cadiz is aiming to be Spain’s first ‘tsunami ready’ municipality this year

Meanwhile, a tsunami originating in Cape St. Vincent, off the coast of Portugal, would take some 40 minutes to reach the coast of Cadiz. 

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of Unesco (ICO) has warned that there is a high probability that a tsunami measuring over one metre will hit the Mediterranean. 

In fact, the odds are 100% that one will arrive in the next 30 years, according to the ICO.

For the Cadiz coast, the probability is considerably lower: 10% in the next 50 years. 

There are, thankfully, contingencies in place to deal with such a potential natural disaster. 

The State Plan for Civil Protection against the Risk of Tsunamis in Spain, which has been put in place due to the threat of a massive wave hitting the country’s coasts, has an early-warning system that identifies underwater earthquakes as well as a response coordinated by the authorities to keep the public safe. 

A beachfront sign shows how much of Chipiona and its coast would be flooded in the case of a tsunami

The plan also evaluates the risks for different areas of the coast, with the lowest danger in Cantabria, and the highest in the Canary Islands and the western coast of Andalusia. 

The town of Chipiona, just north of Cadiz, held mock tsunami evacuation drills last November in a bid to become Spain’s first ‘tsunami ready’ municipality this year.

The activity was part of a ICO exercise which involved seven separate communities in the North East Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. 

A total of seven tsunamis have hit Spain since the year 365 AD, killing 2,215 in the country, according to the World Data website. 

The worst of these was in 1755, when an earthquake measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale hit Portugal, killing 2,214 Spaniards after a wave hit the Cadiz and Huelva coasts. 

This article was amended to remove a reference to the cause being partially attributed to climate change.

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