Articles | Volume 13, issue 10
Research article
09 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 09 Oct 2013

Daily precipitation records over mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands

C. Ramis, V. Homar, A. Amengual, R. Romero, and S. Alonso

Abstract. Understanding the spatial distribution of extreme precipitations is of major interest in order to improve our knowledge of the climate of a region and its relationship with society. These analyses inevitably require the use of directly observed values to account for the actual extreme amounts rather than analyzed gridded values. A study of daily rainfall extremes observed over mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands is performed by using records from 8135 rain gauge stations from the Spanish Weather Agency (AEMET). Results show that the heaviest daily precipitations have been observed mainly on the coastal Mediterranean zone from Gibraltar to the Pyrenees. In particular, a record value of 817 mm was recorded in the Valencia region in 1987. The current map of daily records in Spain, which updates the pioneering work of the Spanish meteorologist Font, shows similar distribution of extreme events but with notably higher amounts. Generalized extreme values distributions fit the Mediterranean and Atlantic rain gauge measurements and shows the different characteristics of the extreme daily precipitations in both regions. We identify the most extreme events (above 500 mm per day) and provide a brief description of a typical meteorological situation in which these damaging events occur. An analysis of the low-level circulation patterns producing such extremes – by means of simple indices such as NAO, WeMOi and IBEI – confirms the relevance of local flows in the generation of either Mediterranean or Atlantic episodes. WeMOi, and even more IBEI, are good discriminants of the region affected by the record precipitation event.