Articles | Volume 11, issue 9
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2437–2452, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-11-2437-2011
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 11, 2437–2452, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-11-2437-2011

Research article 15 Sep 2011

Research article | 15 Sep 2011

Modelling the extreme precipitation event over Madeira Island on 20 February 2010

T. Luna1, A. Rocha2, A. C. Carvalho3, J. A. Ferreira2, and J. Sousa2 T. Luna et al.
  • 1IDAD The Institute for Environment and Development, Campus Universitario de Santiago 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
  • 2Department of Physics, CESAM, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitario de Santiago 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
  • 3CENSE, Departament of Science Environmental Engineering, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal

Abstract. In the morning of the 20 February of 2010 an extreme precipitation event occurred over Madeira Island. This event triggered several flash floods and mudslides in the southern parts of the island, resulting in 42 confirmed deaths, 100 injured, and at least 8 people still missing. These extreme weather conditions were associated to a weather frontal system moving northeastwards embedded in a low pressure area centered in the Azores archipelago. This storm was one in a series of such storms that affected Portugal, Spain, Morocco and the Canary islands causing flooding and strong winds. These storms were bolstered by an unusually strong sea surface temperature gradient across the Atlantic Ocean.

In this study, the WRF model is used to evaluate the intensity and predictability of this precipitation extreme event over the island. The synoptic/orographic nature of the precipitation is also evaluated, as well as the sensitivity of the model to horizontal resolution and cumulus parameterization. Orography was found to be the main factor explaining the occurrence, amplitude and phase of precipitation over the Island.

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