Aftermath of the floods in Sant Llorenç, Mallorca in October 2018.

Thirteen people lost their lives as a result of the floods in Mallorca's northeast.

06-05-2021Enrique Calvo

The Balearic parliament's emergencies and civil protection committee has approved the review of the Inunbal flood risk special plan. Fifteen years after the original plan was implemented, the review is described as a necessary response to events such as the Sant Llorenç floods in October 2018.

The revised plan foresees risks posed to the Balearics because of mild winters and very hot and dry summers. Special attention is paid to the so-called "gota fría" weather event of autumn, which makes flooding the main natural risk for Mallorca and the Balearics. Consideration is given to management of resources across the islands and there is a particular focus on the impact of climate change. The frequency and scale of floods are forecast to increase.

The plan categorises four types of flood and the actions to be taken for each one. The first is "floods due to precipitation in situ". These are caused by intense rainfall, before which it is important to take into account the condition of the drainage network and property and land susceptible to flooding.

The second is floods due to channels overflowing, e.g. the torrents, which was what happened in Sant Llorenç. These can cause significant damage because of the speed and volume of water as well as the carrying of sediment and other material. The other two are floods in coastal areas and floods due to the failure or incorrect operation of hydraulic infrastructure.

The plan contains data which indicate that Mallorca is more affected by rain than the other islands. On average, there are 47 days a year when it rains. In Minorca this is 40, while in Ibiza and Formentera it is 34.

Of flooding episodes over the past ten years, 77% have been in urban environments, while 48% have caused damage to infrastructure because of, for example, torrents bursting their banks.

Mercedes Garrido, minister for public function (which includes the emergencies department), says that this is "a good plan and is the result of careful, intense, detailed and rigorous work in recent years". "The Balearic Islands are now better prepared for any meteorological adversity that may occur."

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