Rain cloud over Funchal, Madeira

Intense frontal precipitation in Madeira

20 February 2010 12:00 UTC

Photo credit: Eva Elijas

Rain cloud over Funchal, Madeira
Rain cloud over Funchal, Madeira

Intense frontal precipitation from the west crossed the island of Madeira, producing mudslides and causing more than 50 fatalities.

Last Updated

15 June 2022

Published on

20 February 2010

The rainfall was associated with an active cold front and an Atlantic low-pressure area that was over the Azores and moved northeastwards on 19 February (Figure 1).

This storm was one in a series of such storms that affected Spain, Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands with flooding, rain and high winds. These storms were bolstered by an unusually strong temperature contrast of the sea surface across the Atlantic Ocean. Abnormally warm waters had been widespread off West Africa whereas relatively cold surface waters had stretched between western Europe and the southeastern United States. It was also exacerbated by the eruption cloud of the Soufrière Hills volcano (Figure 2)

Figure 1: Meteosat-9 Airmass RGB, 20 February


 

Ash and SO2 from volcano Soufriere Hills
Figure 2: Ash and SO2 from volcano Soufriere Hills, 12 February 00:00 UTC