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Alicante is hit by meteotsunami flooding streets and beaches and damaging cars

An Alicante resort has been hit by a meteotsunami which flooded streets and beaches and damaged cars after severe changes in atmospheric pressure. 

Santa Pola was hit overnight on Wednesday by the freak weather incident, called a rissaga in Catalan Spanish.  

These are large, tsunami-like waves are triggered by severe changes in atmospheric pressure caused by fast-moving weather events, such as a heatwave.

It comes as a blast of hot weather pushing north from the Sahara is expected to push temperatures to 47C in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, in the coming days.   

The freak weather incident saw the sea level drop and then rise, washing over the beach and promenade around 2:30am on Wednesday.  

Alicante resort Santa Pola has been hit by a meteotsunami which flooded streets and beaches and damaged cars after severe changes in atmospheric pressure

Santa Pola was hit overnight on Wednesday by the freak weather incident, called a rissaga in Catalan Spanish

Santa Pola was hit overnight on Wednesday by the freak weather incident, called a rissaga in Catalan Spanish

Pictures showed the beach covered with white wash and water lapping over the promenade and around cars on nearby streets

Pictures showed the beach covered with white wash and water lapping over the promenade and around cars on nearby streets

Pictures showed the beach covered with white wash and water lapping over the promenade and around cars on nearby streets.  

Santa Pola police said the rare weather damaged the town’s fishing fleet and left several boats adrift on Wednesday morning.

The Department of Climatology of the University of Alicante said the rare phenomenon was more common around the Balearic Islands, but had happened in Alicante before – though this was much stronger than usual. 

Guardamar del Segura, south of Santa Pola, was also hit by the meteotsunami and saw water levels rise at least 80cm by Wednesday morning.  

Bins were left strewn across the beach in Santa Pola after a meteotsunami pushed them over early on Wednesday

Bins were left strewn across the beach in Santa Pola after a meteotsunami pushed them over early on Wednesday

Water and white wash was seen lapping at the tyres of cars parked streets close to Santa Pola beach on Wednesday

Water and white wash was seen lapping at the tyres of cars parked streets close to Santa Pola beach on Wednesday

Santa Pola, a resort town close to Alicante in Spain, was hit with the rare weather phenomenon around 2:30am on Wednesday

Santa Pola, a resort town close to Alicante in Spain, was hit with the rare weather phenomenon around 2:30am on Wednesday

WHAT IS A METEOTSUNAMI?

Meteotsunamis are similar to tsunamis but are not triggered by seismic activity on the ocean floor.

Instead, meteotsunamis are driven by air-pressure disturbances linked with fast-moving weather events, like severe thunderstorms.

The storm front generates the wave, which moves towards the coast, where it is amplified by a shallow continental shelf, inlet or bay.

Scientists are only just starting to understand meteotsunamis but waves of 6ft (1.8m) or more have already been observed.  

Meteotsunamis occur in a number of places around the world, including the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.

Identifying a meteotsunami presents a unique set of challenges to scientists, since the characteristics of these waves are so similar to other meteorological phenomenon, including tsunamis. 

It can also easily be confused with wind-driven storm surges or a seiche, which is a standing wave in an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water.

These uncertainties make it difficult to predict a meteotsunami and warn the public of a potential event.

Scientists are working to pinpoint the exact conditions which are most likely to generate a meteotsunami in an effort to improve advance warnings. 

The meteotsunami comes ahead of a heatwave from the Sahara, expected to make landfall in southern Europe in the coming days.

Temperatures are forecast to soar over 45C in southern Europe, with the heat expected to last until at least Monday. 

Issuing a heat warning, a spokesperson for Spain’s weather service AEMET said: ‘Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are facing a probable heatwave.

‘This could lead to adverse effects on people’s health and to a significant risk of forest fires.’

Sweltering heat is also expected across Italy and Portugal this week. 

The mercury reached 47C in Sicily on Tuesday, close to Italy’s highest ever recorded temperature of 48.5C. 

The weather is expected to fuel wildfires in southern Italy, mirroring blazes in Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, and Algeria, in recent weeks. 

It comes after the UN on Monday published a damning report warning the world is already experiencing the effects of climate changes – and that they are set to get rapidly worse.   

It highlighted how scientists are quantifying the extent to which human-induced warming increases the intensity and/or likelihood of a specific extreme weather event, such as a heatwave, drought, or a wildfire. 

Scientists had expected temperatures to rise by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 but now believe it will happen between this year and 2040 – the bombshell report dubbed a ‘code red for humanity’ warned.

The world’s largest ever report into climate change also said it was ‘unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land’.  

‘It’s just guaranteed that it’s going to get worse,’ said report co-author Linda Mearns, a senior climate scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. ‘I don’t see any area that is safe… Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.’  

If temperatures continue to rise, there could be devastating effects here on Earth, including a dramatic loss of sea-life, an ice-free Arctic and more regular 'extreme' weather

If temperatures continue to rise, there could be devastating effects here on Earth, including a dramatic loss of sea-life, an ice-free Arctic and more regular ‘extreme’ weather


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