Wednesday, 3 October 2012

This Autumn's storms in Murcia and Andalucía were caused by a 'cold drop'

Gota fría in Spanish means cut-off low in English, but what is it?
SPAIN Wikipedia describes a gota fría as follows: "When an upper-level high- or low-pressure system becomes stuck in place due to a lack of steering currents, it is known as being "cut off". The usual pattern which leads to this is the jet stream retreating to the north, leaving the then cut-off system behind. Whether or not the system is of high- or low-pressure variety dictates the weather that the block causes." Precisely this situation occurred over south eastern Spain over the last few days of September 2012, when a cut-off-lowSOON YOU WILL BE UNABLE
TO READ THE REST OF ITEMS LIKE THIS UNLESS YOU SUBSCRIBEsystem hovering over the region brought unusually cool temperatures and an extraordinary amount of rain to the regions of Andalucía and Murcia. It happens frequently  in the Autumn, varying in intensity from year to year. This year's dry winter and very hot summer contributed to their ferocity. The term gota fría is not a definition, according to one meteorologist we consulted, but a concept. It first appeared in Germany in 1886 as 'kaltlufttropfen' or 'drop of cold air', and later shortened. In Spain at least, it does not define cold air coming from a cloud (more likely in Germany), as rain is always of the temperature of the air that surrounds each drop. Sometimes, the column of cold air rises so quickly that it produces hail, though this is usually so in early spring. Damage to homes, businesses, roads and infrastructure caused by these storms so far this year are still being calculated but it certainly runs into several millions. The price of the ten deaths is incalculable. 

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