Wild Weather In Majorca (Mallorca):
A Haven For Floods, Hail And Tornadoes?
Severe weather in Majorca is quite common during the autumn. If you're planning to travel to the Balearic Islands during the autumn (particularly October), then keep reading.
If you have visited during mid-autumn and have had great weather then consider yourself fortunate since many people erroneously believe that Majorca weather is nice all year round.
Please note: The majority of the thunderstorms and associated flooding occurs over a period of 2-3 hours and mainly during the afternoon. The rest of the day is normally nice and pleasant.
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Severe weather in Majorca
The island of Majorca together with the other smaller Balearic Islands is subject to severe thunderstorm activity that produces flash flooding, tornadoes and hail damage.
The majority of the tourists visit during the months of June through to September since this is the hottest and normally one of the driest times of the year. Although the month of September is the beginning of the stormy weather in Majorca.
The main point here is that the weather in Majorca can be particularly severe during certain months. This is explained in detail for you below.
Flash flooding weather in Majorca
Flash flooding weather in Majorca due to heavy rain can occur any time from September through to December, with occasional flooding episodes occurring during winter and spring. The heaviest rain that leads to localised flooding occurs in October since thunderstorm activity reaches a maximum during this month.
The highland regions of Majorca, in particular the mountainous terrain along the northern coastline acts as a natural barrier to the warm and humid air coming off the Mediterranean Sea. This fact, together with the arrival of early-autumn cold fronts leads to localised heavy rain over this region of Majorca and consequently flash flooding.
Nearly every year, the Sierra de Tramuntana (the highest mountain range in Majorca) receives more than 100mm (approx. 4 inches) of rain over a period of a few hours during one of these thunderstorms.
In fact, you may be interested to know that this occurred on the 5-6th October 2008 as shown on the youtube video. This region of Majorca frequently has localised flooding events since the steep mountain ranges channel the flood water through the highland valleys towards the coastline.
These flood waters don't follow a set route to the coast since most of the streams in Majorca are ephemeral. The main flood danger zones are within the Albuferan basin which is located over the inland parts of north-eastern Majorca. The main flood waters empty just south of Port d'Alcúdia.
There are times when the flood waters spread from Port de Pollenca to Port d'Alcúdia which is particularly worrisome since this region is utilised heavily by tourists. You should take careful note of the location of your intended accommodation to make sure that you're not going to be staying in a flood zone.
Another region that experiences flooding, though to a lesser extent, is the capital city of Majorca, Palma de Mallorca. Although the flooding around the capital is not as severe as the north eastern side of Majorca. Other regions to the north of Palma de Mallorca such as Port d'Andratx are occasionally subject to flooding.
Just be aware that you may not even realise that flood waters are approaching your location since it doesn't have to rain where you are to become flooded. A very localised storm over the mountains that produces torrential rain may be all that is needed to initiate flash flooding downstream. Generally, flash flooding along the coastline typically occurs 3-4 hours after a heavy rain event in the mountains.
Whatever you do, never ever go camping in an empty stream on Majorca since you won't have enough time to pack up and escape if flood waters do hit.
Hailstorm weather in Majorca
Hailstorm weather in Majorca is relatively common from early spring (March and April) and more so in late autumn to early winter (November and December). The majority of these storm hit after about 3pm local time and can cause extensive damage to cars.
You must realise that heavy rain is much more common than hail, so don't panic if you must travel during the hailstorm period.
The quickest way to determine if a thunderstorm will produce hail is to look for a greenish colour beneath the darkest part of the cloud. The greener the cloud appears the more hail it will produce.
Nearly all parts of Majorca receive hailstorms, although they are normally more severe over the inland and southern parts of the island. So if you're hiring a car make sure that you get insured since you don't want to pay for any smashed windows and dinted panels.
Hailstorms are normally a precusor to tornado formation so just beware that if you're in a region that is experiencing hail then it's possible you may see a funnel cloud in the area as well.
Tornado weather in Majorca
Tornadoes are not exclusive to the United States but do affect other regions of the world. Majorca and the surrounding Balearic Islands frequently experience tornadic activity from September to October. You may have been told by people that tornadoes never occur on Majorca but don't believe them.
On Majorca, tornadoes typically occur only over the southern and central parts of the island including the coastal areas since tornadoes need to form over flat terrain. Only about 30% of the tornadoes are known to be strong (windspeed between 113-180km/hr) and the rest of them are relatively weak. Although even the weakest tornadoes can cause considerable damage since the wind speed from these ranges between 80-112km/hr.
The Balearic Islands has around 5-6 tornadoes every year. In fact, from 1989-1999, 27 tornadoes and 54 waterspouts were recorded throughout the Balearic Islands.
Waterspouts are quite common close to the Palma de Mallorca.
Temperatures across Majorca
Even though Majorca is a relatively small island, you should be aware that the temperature can fluctuate greatly across the island.
During the day, the highest daytime temperatures are recorded over the inland parts of south-western region of Majorca. This is particularly true from June to September when daytime maximum temperatures can approach 40°C on a number of days in each of these months. It is well known that the the region around Pollensa has milder night time and daytime temperatures in comparison to Palma de Mallorca and for this reason is the best coastal location to stay at during a heatwave. (Of course, the Tramuntana mountains are much cooler than Pollensa).
The lowest temperatures are found near the higher parts of the Tramuntana ranges in northern Majorca. In fact, it does snow in Majorca in the Tramuntana mountains during the winter. For this reason, the temperatures can sometimes drop below 0°C in the mountains during the winter. Of course, the main reason you're visiting Majorca is to get away from the cold so I wouldn't be planning to visit the highland areas in the winter.
Although... it can still get very cold near the base of these mountains since cold air simply drains down the mountain to fill the valleys during certain times during the winter. The coldest overnight temperature ever recorded at Palma de Mallorca Airport is also -10°C.
Most coastal areas of Majorca are subject to frequent sea breezes during the warmer months of the year. As such, these sea breezes help to moderate both the minimum and maximum temperatures. Thus, the coastal region tends to have a higher minimum overnight temperature and a lower daytime maximum temperature than most inland parts of Majorca.
The inland parts of Majorca are up to 3-4°C cooler at night and about the same degrees warmer by day than the coastal regions.
Here's another important fact you should know: Remember that the temperature decreases at a rate of around 0.6°C for every 100 metre in altitude in this relatively moist atmosphere regardless of the season.
The most expensive time to visit Majorca is from June through to September since the tourism industry realises that the weather in Majorca is nice and warm during the summer months.
- Amengual A, Romero R and Alonso S. Hydrometeorological ensemble simulations of flood events over a small basin of Majorca Island, Spain. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. 2008;134(634):1221-1242.
- Kent M, Newnham R and Essex S. Tourism and sustainable water supply in Mallorca: a geographical analysis. Applied Geography. 2002;22(4):351-374.
- Ramis C, Jansà A and Alonso S. Sea Breeze in Mallorca. A Numerical Study. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics. 1990;42(3-4):249-258.
- Romero R, Guijarro JA, Ramis C and Alonso S. A 30-year (1964-1993) daily rainfall data base for the Spanish mediterranean regions: first exploratory study. International Journal of Climatology. 1998;18(5):541-560.
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