If there is a storm, leave the beach. | Joan Taberner


September isn't historically the month with the greatest rainfall in Mallorca, but it is the month when there is the most lightning. A hot sea and meteorological conditions trigger off thunderstorms, and these can occur even when low probability has been forecast.

This was the case on Thursday, when two people were tragically killed by lightning strikes in Cala Mesquida in Capdepera. The storm was highly localised, but it was strong and produced almost 300 lightning strikes in half an hour as well as up to 26 litres per square metre of rain.

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Agustí Jansà, a meteorologist and a former delegate in the Balearics for the Aemet met agency, says that these are dangerous storms - more so in open places like fields or a beach than in built-up areas. "When lightning strikes at a beach, you must get out of the water, as this acts as a conductor of electricity. Leave as quickly as possible and take refuge in a car with the windows closed. People standing on a beach - a flat surface - act as lightning attractors. That is why it is so important to leave."

Jansà adds that deaths such as those on Thursday are "rare, but they can happen." It used to be the case that records of deaths from lightning strikes were kept. Between 1940 and the end of the 1970s, an average of 60 people died in Spain. But more recent figures are not known.