Diez, J.J.; Esteban, M.D.; López-Gutiérrez, J.S., and Negro, V., 2013. Meteocean influence on inland and coastal floods in the east of Spain.
The Santa Irene flood, at the end of October 1982, is one of the most dramatically and widely reported flood events in Spain. Its renown is mainly attributable to the collapse of the Tous dam, but its main message is to be the paradigm of the incidence of the maritime/littoral weather and its temporal sea-level rise on the coastal plains inland floods. The Santa Irene flood was attributable to a meteorological phenomenon known as gota fría (cold drop), a relatively frequent and intense rainy phenomenon on the Iberian Peninsula, particularly on the Spanish E to SE inlands and coasts. There are some circumstances that can easily come together to unleash the cold drop there: cold and dry polar air masses coming onto the whole Iberian Peninsula and the north of Africa, high sea-water temperatures, and low atmospheric pressure (cyclone) areas in the western Mediterranean basin; these circumstances are quite common during the autumn and, as it happens, in other places around the world (E/SE Africa). Their occurrence, however, shows a great space-temporal variability (in a similar way to hurricanes on Caribbean and western North Atlantic areas or also in a similar way to typhoons). In fact, all of these are equivalent, although different, phenomena, able to have a different magnitude each time. This paper describes the results of a detailed analysis and reflection about this cold drop phenomenon as a whole, on the generation of its rains, and on the different natures and consequences of its flood. This paper also explains the ways in which the nearby maritime weather and the consequential sea level govern floods on different zones of any hydrographical basin. The Santa Irene case can be considered as a paradigm to explain the influence of nearby maritime climatic conditions on flooding phenomena not only in coastal but also in upward inland areas.