The heavy rain in Mallorca on Tuesday and Wednesday broke records for rainfall at certain weather stations. | Youtube: Majorca Daily Bulletin TV
The 'cold drop' - normal for September
As sure as night follows day, so September brings wet weather. The ironically dubbed 'cold drop' isn't always responsible, as there can simply be rain, but more often than not it is the culprit. Officially an isolated depression at high altitude (DANA), which doesn't mean much for most of us, it was this that led to some rainfall records earlier this week - two anyway, both of them in Palma. There was evidence as to the isolated nature of the intensity of rainfall. The university's weather station registered over one hundred litres per square metre in a 24-hour period. No other official Aemet weather station reached sixty. Still, the island in general got a good old soaking, which was welcome in terms of the water reserves.
A problem can obviously be with the met agency alerts for bad weather - the rain doesn't always materialise. This was the case last week, when there were alerts on three consecutive days but little rain of any consequence. As it happened, though, there was poor weather elsewhere - the Spanish mainland, southern France, northern Italy - and this resulted in delays at the airport last Friday; around 70% of flights were affected. The midweek DANA had a similar impact. On this occasion, weather in Mallorca was partly to blame.
Collision at the airport
The weather wasn't the reason for an incident at the airport on Tuesday morning. There was a collision on the tarmac involving a Condor plane and an Air Europa plane. It sounded rather more dramatic than it actually was. A winglet of the Air Europa plane hit the Condor plane, which was stationary at the time. A passenger on the Condor plane said that he heard a loud noise as the plane braked before impact. "Fortunately there were no injuries and everyone reacted normally."
Civil aviation investigators are in charge of establishing what happened. Both planes were grounded for assessment, meaning scheduling issues for the two airlines and financial loss. Aviation experts said that this sort of incident occurs rather more often than one might imagine.
The summer rain and heat
The met agency went rather early on giving its summer summary. Wetter than usual, the average rainfall of 94 litres per square metre was well in excess of a normal forty and was mainly due to storms on two days in August. One supposes that this average will now be higher once summer comes to an end on Saturday.
Last Sunday was pretty hot. There was a high of 37C in Petra, with the skies full of Saharan dust and the humidity especially high. But September is unlikely to challenge the maximum temperatures of high summer, so Aemet would have been confident in stating that 43.9C in Sa Pobla in July was the maximum. The third hottest summer on record after 2003 and 2022, the average temperature was 25.5C, 1.2 degrees higher than normal. There were three heat waves, the same number as last year. The greater frequency with which there are heat waves is emphasised by the fact that until recently there was just the one every two years.
When diving in Puerto Pollensa could prove costly
While accident investigators at the airport will have been going about their business in exhaustive fashion, it hasn't been possible to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the boat that sank in Puerto Pollensa in June. The Annette Rosenkilde, a one-time fishing boat that had been converted into an excursions boat, has been clearly marked and an anti-pollution barrier has been put in place. But efforts to locate the owner have been fruitless.
The boat is due to be removed once the tourism season ends, though it isn't as yet clear who will be responsible for this. However, the Harbour Master's Office in Palma has signalled its responsibility. It has prohibited all unauthorised access and warned that fines can be as much as 120,000 euros. Videos of people diving at the boat have been hastily taken down from social media.
Match fixing in Mallorca
Investigations of a criminal nature have resulted in 23 arrests and in 300 people in Mallorca having been implicated in football match fixing and illegal betting. The National Police have been working with the Tax Agency, Europol and Interpol in investigating an organisation said to have been centred in Mallorca. An alleged leader is Juan Gayá Salom, one of Spain's top sports tipsters. He was arrested at his home in Santa Eugenia in March this year.
The match fixing is mainly said to have affected games outside Spain. But one of the charges levelled against Gayá is that he bought a local football club so that he could have full control over it in carrying out his activities. Players, coaches, club directors are among the 300. The Tax Agency is informing them that they are under investigation and that they are liable for income derived from the betting.
Fines of a bizarre nature
The Tax Agency is meanwhile involved with Council of Mallorca inspectors who are engaged in the constant efforts to stamp out illegal holiday rentals. This will mean a sharing of information on payment of the tourist tax. Legally registered holiday rentals are subject to the tourist tax. This must be collected and declared. The cross-checking will be of lets advertised by intermediaries, e.g. Airbnb.
Hefty fines are levied on illegal tourist lets. Far lower fines, 200 euros, are also dished out for not wearing seatbelts. The traffic directorate takes care of these fines, and it is at the centre of a bizarre story regarding Palma bus drivers. They have been receiving notifications of fines and having points docked from their driving licences for not wearing belts. But the buses don't have belts. They are exempt and in compliance with EU regulations in this respect. A union and the bus company, EMT, are fighting the fines.
Paying for the damage, but no fine
A good deal of comment was aroused by the report of two 18-year-old British tourists who smashed up a Magalluf hotel room and yet weren't fined. They were arrested for criminal damage and taken before a judge. Their passports were withdrawn, but when a parent of one of the two transferred the cost of the damage - 1,000 euros - the passports were returned and they were free to go. The Guardia Civil officers who were called to the incident did tell them that they wouldn't be reported if the payment to the hotel was made promptly. It wasn't. The two accused the officers of wanting the money for themselves. No wonder they were arrested. But they got off lightly.
New government still unclear on tourism excesses
Were these two tourists symptomatic of tourism of excesses? Probably so. The new minister for tourism, Jaume Bauzá, has been reiterating that he and the government will come down hard on excesses in their varied forms. "Decisive and forceful measures" will be applied to combat criminal and anti-social activities.
Bauzá said earlier this week that alcohol abuse was the cause of most of these excesses. Once more implying criticism of the previous government, who did of course introduce the tourism of excesses law, he nevertheless observed that there were "reasons of general interest to justify the adoption of measures established by this decree law". So, how did the previous government fail exactly? There has been much clutching at political straws with regard to the excesses law by the new government, while if tourists are intent on misbehaving, sometimes very badly indeed, there is only so much that can be legislated for.
In Playa de Palma, the hoteliers are of the view that a reason for crime and anti-social behaviour having been proliferating with impunity is that authorities - Palma town hall and the Council of Mallorca - haven't been acting. The hoteliers hired a firm of private investigators. This firm compiled a report which itemised 514 violations over a 12-hour period - drug dealing, illegal selling, fights, sex in public, illegal parties on boats. Armed with "exhaustive documentary evidence", the hoteliers have concluded that "no one has the slightest intention to act".
One way in which tourists are engaged in excess is in terms of how much they are spending. It is at an all-time high. While inflation and higher prices have to be considered in this context, latest figures indicate that the greatest increases in spending have been on accommodation and transport. So much so that the bar and restaurant and retail sectors maintain that tourists have been spending less. "August was not a good month. The drop in sales was very noticeable. Tourists have come with the handbrake on." The words of the president of one of the retailers associations.
This past Sunday, August 27 2023, the island was shaken by strong storms and hurricane-force winds. The island remains on bad weather alert and the unsettled weather is expected to continue all week. In fact, cloudy skies and rain are being forecast again for the weekend.