The news from 5,487 miles away went from interesting to alarming, “Muy probable GOTA FRIA.” became, “The level of threat for EXTREMELY HEAVY RAIN has been raised to red, which means the National Met Office assesses the risk as extreme.” Well O.K. then, but what is a Gota Fria???
This is what culturespain.com has to say. “A Gota Fria is a meteorological phenomenon common on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, most particularly that of the Valencian Comunitat.” That’s us!!!
“When a Gota Fria occurs all of a sudden you can experience a sustained storm of considerable power – a deluge of quite simply staggering amounts of water.” At this point I was paying complete attention.
A Gota Fria has been likened to standing under a power shower…or being inside of a washing machine!” I also read that winds can range from 60 to 120 mph. Not to worry though, a Gota Fria only lasts from 4 hours up to 4 days – non-stop. The map included in the latest Urgent Update had our house clearly within the red zone.
At this point I was going through our house’s vulnerabilities. As a Seattle native I know a bit about rain. In a nutshell, water is going to do whatever it takes to find a way into your house. I’ve seen a waterfall flowing over a fireplace and threatening to turn a sunken living room into a wading pool. I’ve seen a lively stream spout from a concrete foundation and bubble across a basement floor. I recall my sister’s three story house and the never ending saga of trying to find the leak.
The tile roof on our Oliva house has always given me pause. Tile roofs are not unlike cedar shake roofs. A drip from the ceiling gives you no indication of where the leak in the roof is. My next worry was the glass ceiling above the main floor sun room. Where would all that water go? Yow! Pulverizing rain might overwhelm the drain running from the top terrace into the floor of the sun room. I imagined furniture being swept on a freshet and jamming up against the front door. Then too, there is the roof drain at the corner of the house. Discolorations on the flat part of the roof told me it was inadequate. It wasn’t completely handling average rainfall. The top terrace? I should have waterproofed it in March.
Then the rain hit! From my perch on a couch 5,487 miles away I read posts from Oliva. David Hale posted a picture of Noah’s Ark. A photo from La Drova showed a raging stream threatening to collapse a garden wall. Photos of buckets under drips in lounges, and water flowing down walls were common. New roofs were leaking. Leaks that had been repaired two and three times were leaking. Roads were closed. Gale force winds were driving rain under seventh floor deck sliders. Saturated towels were pulled from window sills and doorways. They were wrung out and stacked in piles. All of this for five wild days. Our neighbor, Ian, wrote, “The rain in Spain…falls mainly…here!”
A Gota Fria parks itself and doesn’t stop raining until it’s all rained out. This one set records. It was the largest Easter Storm in 73 years. The normal April rainfall in Oliva is 31mm. In one 12 hour period Oliva experienced 107mm of the kind of rain that makes people recalibrate what torrential means!
At this point our unspoken question was, “How did our house fare?” An email exchange from Malcolm, Oliva’s intrepid Mr. Fix-it, included three photos. None of my worst fears were realized. The floors were dry. There was leakage under the inadequate drain on the roof. The bedroom under the top terrace leaked. Not where I expected it to, or very much. The main bathroom ceiling got the worst of it. What I had written off as signs of poor ventilation was something else. It was the lower terrace. Our Scottish neighbor’s observation that the red waterproof paint doesn’t do the job was dead on accurate.
Overall, Donna and I are pleased. Our house in Oliva survived a 76 year weather event and sustained power wash with minor leakage. The current weather forecast calls for sun and temperatures in the 70’s. Summer is right around the corner!