Strong winds and intense rain cause damage
across the region
HOUSES WERE flooded, trees fell and walls collapsed as a result of the violent storm that hit the Algarve during the early hours of last Sunday morning, with grey weather continuing into Tuesday.
Those boroughs thought to have been worst affected by the freak conditions were Loulé, Faro, Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira.
In Loulé, one of the walls at the local cemetery partially collapsed due to the force of the rain. Meanwhile, in Portimão, the bad weather affected the downtown area and Estrumal. During the night, the old access road to Praia da Rocha and the Cardosas tunnel (one of the two main entrance roads into Portimão) were closed to traffic as a precautionary measure and, close to the Maxmat DIY store, a pine tree fell, damaging an electricity cable.
Floods occurred in São Bartolomeu de Messines, while in Monchique firemen were called to remove trees from the road. In Lagos, metal panels surrounding building sites flew away with the wind and, at the other end of the Algarve, in Faro, around a dozen shops were flooded in Rua de S. Luís. A thousand euros worth of damages were caused at a Chinese store, also in the Algarve capital, when the shop’s front window smashed due to the sheer force of the wind. In Tavira, the heavy rain caused the Asseca river to overflow on Sunday afternoon, making it necessary to close the EN397 road.
Due to the state of the sea, the harbour entrances at Faro/Olhão, Albufeira and Lagos were closed on Sunday. Homes and businesses across the Algarve were left without power on Sunday and Monday, for varying periods of time, a situation that only added to the misery.
Crowds literally flooded the Algarve’s major shopping centres – Forum Algarve in Faro and Algarve Shopping in Guia – for want of a distraction and shelter from the downpours, obliging the centres to operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy at their car parks during peak hours.
Prior to the extreme weather conditions that affected the Algarve at the weekend, experts had been predicting that rainfall would return to a normal level, although, no doubt, they had expected it to be evenly distributed over several months.
However, “the drought is not over yet,” claimed a report in the Correio da Manhã newspaper last week. “But its severity is clearly diminishing,” guaranteed Nuno Santos Loureiro, a scientist from Algarve University.
October was, in the Algarve, a month of rain, with the region experiencing levels of rainfall above normal climatic conditions. Not taking into account the heavy rain last weekend, reservoirs, according to the report, are still not demonstrating great improvement, but some river banks were already seeing a small trickle of water flowing through. In addition, the landscape appears to be greener, which is a great comfort for the people of the Algarve.
Four to six days of considerable rainfall (more than 10 litres per square metre), reasonably distributed over the month of October, were decisive in reversing the trend that has been in existence since the end of 2004.
The best news for the Algarve in hydrological terms (perhaps not for golfers or guests visiting for Christmas), however, comes in the shape of the latest weather forecasts for the coming period up to the end of January. According to the European Centre for Medium Term Weather Forecasting, rainfall will return to normal levels and should be sufficient to bring an end to the drought – “a Christmas present”, smiled the scientist.
No go for World Golf Championship in Vilamoura
Sadly, the prestigious Algarve World Cup, being played at Vilamoura’s Victoria Golf Club, was a wash out, with organisers forced to cancel the final day’s play due to the extreme weather conditions. The event represented a major investment aimed at promoting the region abroad as a top golf destination, but due to the weather promotional benefits are likely to have been diminished. Turn to p.20 for Skip Bandele’s report on the event.