STAFF REPORTER MADRID/PALMA

THE first month of the New Year proved to be “a little colder” but considerably wetter than normal in the Balearics, the National Weather Agency (AEMET) said yesterday, making comparisons with the historic average recorded between 1971 and 2000.

By way of contrast, although temperatures had dropped sharply across the rest of Spain during the last 10 days of the month, January averaged out at 0.5 degrees above normal, whilst the accumulated rainfall figure for the country was 20 percent below the average of 67 litres per square metre.

In the Basque Country and northeastern Catalonia, rainfall didn't even reach a quarter of the historic average.
AEMET said that it was only in the regions of Cantabria and the Eastern mainland where temperatures had remained true to averages registered in previous years.

The agency said that the month had divided itself into two distinct phases. From 1st to 20, temperatures were in a category which AEMET described as “very warm” for the time of year, with thermometers reading between one and two degrees Centigrade above the average, a significant rise.

However during the final 10 days of January, temperatures declined “noticeably” after a mass of cold air swept into Spain from central Europe, pushing down the average to at least 3 degrees below normal.

This sudden chill snap proved to be the coldest for the period since 1960, superseded only by equivalent timeframes in 1963 and 2005.
Meanwhile, bucking the trend for the whole of Spain which had been confirmed by AEMET as being a fifth drier than normal for the time of year, both the Balearic and the Canary Islands registered “wet” and “very wet” conditions in January.

In the first ten days of the month, the strongest rainfall was registered in Galicia where more than 200 litres per square metre fell in the Rías Bajas area.

This rainfall gradually moved eastwards, lessening in intensity before it reached the Mediterranean and the Balearics accompanied by plummeting temperatures.

The second 10 days of January were much wetter than the first 10 days with significant rainfall yet again in Galicia and Cantabria whilst during the third and final phase of the month, it rained over most of the country.