Extreme Droughts and Floods in Eastern and Southern Spain
Extreme weather has ravaged Spain in the last couple of years. Torrential rains and deadly floods plagued eastern and southern Spain in December of 2016 resulting in ten fatalities, school and highway closures, and massive amounts of damage. Conversely, Spain experienced extreme droughts in 2016 and 2014, where rainfall was only 25% of its normal levels. In June 2015, Spain experienced heat waves with some provinces reaching record temperatures. With such chaotic weather patterns, Spain’s economy has suffered, its population is uneasy, and the government has struggled to keep up with remedial measures.
While Spain frequently experiences dry spells, extended periods of drought have become more frequent and more severe. In recent years, Spain’s reservoirs have fallen to half or even 25% of their normal levels. The droughts have negatively impacted Spain’s economy since they hinder the ability to grow crops or raise livestock and deter tourism, which are some of Spain’s leading sources of income. Furthermore, Spain may find itself in a similar situation as it was during the drought of 2008, which was so severe that Spain was forced to import fresh water from France.
In December 2016, extreme flooding ravaged southern and eastern Spain. The region experienced days of endless rainfall that caused damage to buildings, infrastructure, and cars. The flooding claimed the lives of ten people, including one man who was swept out to sea. These floods led to speculation that rising sea levels due to global warming may have exacerbated the flood conditions.
As a result of the flooding, the Spanish government will be providing financial assistance to aid in reparations. While this measure will benefit many citizens who suffered damages in the floods, it does nothing to prevent future flooding. Additionally, the Spanish government is still recovering from its recent economic crisis. Providing this financial assistance will pose a further financial burden on the government. The reservoirs and dams that exist in Spain today were built during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco roughly half a century ago. The Spanish government may find that investing in the creation of new dams and reservoirs could prevent future flooding while also providing more sources of fresh water during periods of drought.