STAFF REPORTER THIS winter has been the wettest of the 21st century and the third wettest in Spain since 1961, National Weather Agency (AEMET) spokesman, Angel Rivera confirmed yesterday.

Only the winters of 1978 and 1995 were wetter than the current one, he said.
In contrast, said Rivera, this winter has not been the “coldest of the decade” as it has lacked the heavy frosts which hallmark the season. Nevertheless, Rivera said that January this year ended as having been “slightly colder” than usual as did December of last year. This, however, he explained, didn't mean that they were the coldest on record but rather that previous winters had been “warmer”.

Meanwhile said Rivera, storms and gales which have most recently battered almost the whole of the country are now moving away from the mainland. The Atlantic coast was particularly badly affected but it was the Canary Islands which were yesterday in the eye of the storm. Rivera said, however, that the weather front was moving very swiftly and would not hover long over the Islands.

Moving across the southeast of Andalucia, moderate rainfall is expected today which will gain considerably in strength as it reaches the Mediterranean where rainfall and wind will be strong. Rivera said that conditions at sea could be “heavy” with rainfall in coastal areas and in the Balearics later in the morning.

Rivera warned that the weather will get worse between tonight and tomorrow and that the squall would then head off towards the south of France and the north of Italy after gathering strength with heavy rainfall and strong wind on its journey across the Mediterranean. “I advise people to take great care if they have to be out in this storm,“ said Rivera.

AEMET reported that what was most significant was that in the early hours of Sunday morning, a new “quite active” squall would sweep in from the west of the mainland, with heavy rainfall, which could turn to snow in areas of the interior.

The weather, he added, looks as though it just doesn't want to fade away. This latest storm will act irregularly as some squalls will sweep in from the southwest and others from the east. The bad weather is going to remain very “active” he said.