Extreme flash floods in Barcelona County
- Meteorological Hazards Analysis Team (GAMA), Department of Astronomy & Meteorology, Faculty of Physics, University of Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 647, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain
Abstract. In this paper the catastrophic and extraordinary floods occurring in Barcelona County (Catalonia, NE Spain) are studied, in order to characterise the temporal evolution of extreme flash floods in that area and their main features. These events usually cause economical losses and major problems for undertaking daily activity in Barcelona city. This kind of floods is a very common feature in the North-east of Spain and they are recorded every year in some point of Catalonia. This contribution also shows the frequency of those events, within the framework of all the floods that have occurred in Barcelona since the 14th century, but also describes the flooded area, urban evolution, impacts and the weather conditions for any of most severe events. The evolution of flood occurrence shows the existence of oscillations in the earlier and later modern age periods that can be attributed to climatic variability, evolution of the perception threshold and changes in vulnerability. A great increase of vulnerability can be assumed for the period 1850-1900. The analysis of the time evolution for the Barcelona rainfall series (1854-2000) shows that no trend exists, although, due to the changes in urban planning, flash-floods impact has changed over this time. The number of catastrophic flash floods has diminished, although the extraordinary ones have increased.