So you’ve probably heard the term “gota fría” thrown about in the news, but if you’re on holiday on the Costa Blanca and you’ve been told a gota fría is on its way, you might want to know what it is.
A Gota Fría is Spanish for “cold drop”, however, it’s more than just a plummet in temperature. A gota fría is much more than that. It’s a meteorological happening which combined with the terrain of Spain and the amount of water that is dropped, can cause devastating flooding.
As I type this, we’re currently on the first stages of another gota fría. The first one of the year. It’s January, and we’ll experience many more over the year than just this one.
You might think the Spanish authorities are exaggerating when they announce that all outdoor sports are to be cancelled, schools face closures and they advise to limit journeys unless they’re absolutely essential. However, it’s all for a reason. There’s a major difference between a few rainy days in Benidorm, and a gota fría.
Here in Benidorm, we’re pretty lucky. We don’t experience the worst of the gota fría. We get some flooding, especially around rincón de loix, but ultimately it’s never too bad. Usually, you’ll still be able to get out and about, albeit you’ll get very wet. For areas like Xabia, the arenal can face flooding. They will usually build a sand wall as an added protection during these forecasts.
Other areas of the Costa Blanca though find much more devastating effects from a gota fría, especially the south-east and further north.
Most people are pretty accustomed to the heavy storms that come, which usually occur late summer or early autumn. But, they can be frightening for those who aren’t used to them, and they can also be extremely dangerous for those who are unaware of the potential dangers.
During a gota fría, there will be high winds, heavy rainfall, storms and very high waves. It’s absolutely essential that you don’t go into the sea at this time. It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people walk to the beach or start jumping in the waves. Also take note of the roads that the police start to close.
Usually, a day before the gota fría is scheduled, the police will start to prepare for it. Warnings will be broadcasted on social media and road closure gates will be balanced ready to be put out. If you do have a car, it’s vital that you don’t park your car on the roads that are destined to flood. As the warnings have been announced, it does void your insurance if you park your car on a flooding potential road.
A gota fría happens when the chilly front hits the warm Mediterranean air. They are much worse when the Mediterranean is warmer. It’s very hard to determine where a gota fría will hit until it’s actually happening due to their unpredictability.
You can find out lots of information about a gota fría and how exactly they’re formed by reading government websites.
To keep up to date with when gota frías are forecast, you can follow me on Facebook where I regularly post updates: Diary of a Spanglish Girl and reading updates from Spain’s met office (AEMET).
The good news is, gota frías don’t tend to last long. Usually only lasting a couple of days and after that the sun shines once more and just like the song, dries up all the rain. For most, it’s an inconvenience with a lot of water dampening the holiday. But for those in rural areas it can be much more of an issue. Use common sense and the storm will pass, just like storms back home. Take extra care near the sea and keep away from the mountain drops.
There used to be a massive problem in La Cala de finestrat, but since the renovations there have been major improvements. You should still take precaution around the market road though that still sometimes floods.
Don’t underestimate the power of the Spanish rain. The terrain means that flooding, flash floods and landslides are all feasible.
To see a glimpse of the gota fría here in Benidorm, I’ll leave you with this video: