Articles | Volume 13, issue 11
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2969–2990, 2013
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2969–2990, 2013

Research article 22 Nov 2013

Research article | 22 Nov 2013

Mesoscale numerical analysis of the historical November 1982 heavy precipitation event over Andorra (Eastern Pyrenees)

L. Trapero1,2, J. Bech2, F. Duffourg3, P. Esteban1,4, and J. Lorente2 L. Trapero et al.
  • 1Snow and Mountain Research Centre of Andorra – Andorran Research Institute, Sant Julià de Lòria, Andorra
  • 2Department of Astronomy and Meteorology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 3Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques – Groupe d'étude de l'Atmosphère Météorologique, Météo-France – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France
  • 4Group of Climatology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract. From 6 to 8 November 1982 one of the most catastrophic flash-flood events was recorded in the Eastern Pyrenees affecting Andorra and also France and Spain with rainfall accumulations exceeding 400 mm in 24 h, 44 fatalities and widespread damage. This paper aims to exhaustively document this heavy precipitation event and examines mesoscale simulations performed by the French Meso-NH non-hydrostatic atmospheric model. Large-scale simulations show the slow-evolving synoptic environment favourable for the development of a deep Atlantic cyclone which induced a strong southerly flow over the Eastern Pyrenees. From the evolution of the synoptic pattern four distinct phases have been identified during the event. The mesoscale analysis presents the second and the third phase as the most intense in terms of rainfall accumulations and highlights the interaction of the moist and conditionally unstable flows with the mountains. The presence of a SW low level jet (30 m s−1) around 1500 m also had a crucial role on focusing the precipitation over the exposed south slopes of the Eastern Pyrenees. Backward trajectories based on Eulerian on-line passive tracers indicate that the orographic uplift was the main forcing mechanism which triggered and maintained the precipitating systems more than 30 h over the Pyrenees. The moisture of the feeding flow mainly came from the Atlantic Ocean (7–9 g kg−1) and the role of the Mediterranean as a local moisture source was very limited (2–3 g kg−1) due to the high initial water vapour content of the parcels and the rapid passage over the basin along the Spanish Mediterranean coast (less than 12 h).

Final-revised paper