of the year, probably the best for the Islands and for their inhabitants, is
the proper time to live and observe some of the most powerful climatic phenomenon.
right time to leave the boat in the marina or somewhere well sheltered and protected,
to be used only when all the signals of the sky and the sea are favourable.
it is also necessary to follow the weather forecast by radio, in case you want
to spend the day out sailing or fishing, because weather conditions are not
to be trusted at all.
change drastically over the hour at this time of the year. Mother Nature packs
such an amazing amount of power that itís hard to believe it, if you don't see
it - considering the mild and usually very moderate Mediterranean weather.
because the northern cold winds reach the Mediterranean skies, which are warm
and very humid because of the very high evaporation.
area of this very cold air is situated above a strong ascendant current of warm
and humid air, this gets suddenly cooled down, even frozen sometimes. When it
reaches the higher levels, forming very powerful storms, the water-steam gets
suddenly liquidated or solidifies and produces a meteorological phenomenon that
we know as the "Gota Fria" (the Cold Drop).
produces very hard intensive rains (they can reach hundreds of litres per square
meter in a few hours) and sometimes hailstones the size of Ping-Pong balls.
This big contrast of the temperatures and exceptional rains also provokes unexpected
and sudden strong winds that could qualify as hurricane winds (speeds over a
hundred and ten kilometres per hour), occasionally forming tornadoes or "Fiblůns,"
as we call them.
these phenomenon happen out at sea most of the time, being very dangerous for
all the boats nearby, but there are no serious consequences inland.
"Gota Fria" happens inland, or one of these rather small "Twisters"
reaches the Islands, as happens now and then (a bigger one every twelve or fifteen
years), disaster is guaranteed. Flooded flats and forest devastation will be
the minimum damage to be expected.
ten years ago at the start of autumn, when a "gota fria" storm
was formed at sea between Ibiza and Mallorca. The storm was brought to us by
the "Gargal" winds and a "twister" landed at "Portinax"
in the north of the Island, on a beautiful, sunny and tranquil (until then)
Sunday afternoon. It moved fast, Southwest along the littoral, in and off land,
leaving a devastated stripe by the coast, finishing at "Cala Tarida"
thirty kilometres away.
then two hours, dozens of boats were lost, sunk or pushed to shore, against
the rocks, some in San Miguel and San Antonio's harbour. Not one was left floating
in "Portinax." Two days later, ten or twelve boats were pulled out
from the seabed to the beach shore, after being tied up by divers to tractors
and volunteers (I was one of them) operating from the beach.
of trees were rooted up and thousands lost most of their branches, smashing
more then ten cars. In San Antonio, the placards, umbrellas, tables and chairs
of the bar terraces were flying all over the place for hundreds of metres. Quite
a few buildings were damaged, as well as overhead electric and telephone lines
falling, provoking power cuts and cutting the traffic on some roads for two
days before they could be removed. Several garages and underground locals were
completely inundated in about an hour of very heavy rain and all the traffic
had to stop for a few hours on this part of the Island.
losses of this disaster were hundreds of millions of pesetas. The ecological
impact can still be seen in some parts of the littoral forest at Portinax and
the hills near by. All these dead trees and dry timber left in the forest
increase the risk of forest fires, being more difficult to move in it and turning
them more powerful and dangerous when it happens.
really amazing that there were no victims; not even one person was sent to hospital
because of this storm. (As Mariano Planells often says in his books: "Tanit
always looks after and protects her sons.") Three hours after the event,
the night was calm and pleasant, with a clean sky full of stars.
that this meteorological phenomenon is going to be considered properly (not
just in theory, but in real terms of security for the population) by the new
"P.T.I." (Plan Territorial Insular) that is being developed by the
local government (Consell Insular) and all the Municipal Districts of Ibiza-Formentera.
speculation that we have been suffering in these last decades has achieved licences
for building in areas that nobody with common sense will ever build. This is
even forbidden by the present laws, but also ignored by the responsible administrations,
such as the natural course of torrents that have been refilled and blocked so
they can be built on (Port des Torrent, Cala Tarida, Cala Vadella, etc.).
flat areas of several square kilometres by Ibiza Town and San Antonio, that
have been suffering historical inundations, over one meter deep, every twenty
or thirty years. That was when the torrents were clean, open and free,
long before any building was stopping the big amount of extra water to run free
to the sea.
actual conditions, probably less then twenty per cent of the extra water that
before was running free in those torrents can be canalised through the pipes
and the ridiculous trenches they have built up to replace them. The rest will
form a huge dam behind the seaside buildings. But it will not remain there;
it will make its own way through.
population knows that it is just a matter of time because it has happened before
several times in a lifetime and it will happen again. We live like the Californians,
with the syndrome of waiting for the "Big One".
problem is more obvious, much easier to control or at least to prevent and reduce
most of the negative effects, especially in terms of saving lives, just by using
common sense and the necessary time and money to do what has to be done.
The Good News
the local daily newspaper "Diario de Ibiza")
tourist were stopped at Ibiza airport with a box full of lizards, (from forty
to fifty) that they were trying to take back with them to Germany. These pretty
and colourful saurian reptiles, by law autochthonous protected specie "Lacerta
lacerta," were captured in Formentera and the little islands by and
are all of different colours. The ones that do get smuggled out are being
sold in Germany for ten thousands pesetas each, so the holiday was paid for,
as some "clever lads" have being doing in the past years.
that the lizards can be left where they belong and donít have to spend the rest
of their lives eating sauerkraut in an artificial and boring "Terrarium".