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Volume 14, issue 2 | Copyright

Special issue: 13th Plinius Conference on Mediterranean Storms: disasters...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 427-441, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-14-427-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 28 Feb 2014

Research article | 28 Feb 2014

The snow storm of 8 March 2010 in Catalonia (Spain): a paradigmatic wet-snow event with a high societal impact

M. C. Llasat1, M. Turco2, P. Quintana-Seguí3, and M. Llasat-Botija1 M. C. Llasat et al.
  • 1Department of Astronomy and Meteorology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2CMCC (Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change), Lecce, Italy
  • 3Observatori de l'Ebre, Universitat Ramon Llull – CSIC, Roquetes, Spain

Abstract. A heavy precipitation event swept over Catalonia (NE Spain) on 8 March 2010, with a total amount that exceeded 100 mm locally and snowfall of more than 60 cm near the coast. Unusual for this region and at this time of the year, this snowfall event affected mainly the coastal region and was accompanied by thunderstorms and strong wind gusts in some areas. Most of the damage was due to "wet snow", a kind of snow that favours accretion on power lines and causes line-breaking and subsequent interruption of the electricity supply. This paper conducts an interdisciplinary analysis of the event to show its great societal impact and the role played by the recently developed social networks (it has been called the first "Snowfall 2.0"), as well to analyse the meteorological factors associated with the major damage, and to propose an indicator that could summarise them. With this aim, the paper introduces the event and its societal impact and compares it with other important snowfalls that have affected the Catalan coast, using the PRESSGAMA database. The second part of the paper shows the event's main meteorological features and analyses the near-surface atmospheric variables responsible for the major damage through the application of the SAFRAN (Système d'analyse fournissant des renseignements atmosphériques à la neige) mesoscale analysis, which, together with the proposed "wind, wet-snow index" (WWSI), allows to estimate the severity of the event. This snow storm provides further evidence of our vulnerability to natural hazards and highlights the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in analysing societal impact and the meteorological factors responsible for this kind of event.

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