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Spain is in extreme danger due to the DANA

Hundreds of houses destroyed, cars buried under mud, three people missing, and at least five dead: the passage of the DANA through Spain.

On Sunday, September 3, the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) issued a statement warning of the danger of the approaching DANA to the Iberian Peninsula. The Community of Madrid and the Toledo region activated red alerts for torrential rainfall.

In addition to this warning from AEMET, people in the capital received a Civil Protection alert on their phones, urging them not to take their vehicles and to stay in their homes until the weather had passed.

It was the first time this system was used in the Community of Madrid, and most people who received it were surprised by the noise their phones made and the text messages that appeared on their screens. According to Civil Protection, this system aims to inform as many people as possible about disasters or emergencies in their area. This alert method is used in several countries worldwide, such as Chile, Peru, and Japan, and it was not until July 2022 that the European Union requested its members to implement it.

These types of meteorological phenomena are common in Spain at the end of summer, which experts call the beginning of meteorological autumn. However, this time it made headlines due to the torrential rains it brought throughout the country, with the Community of Madrid being the most brutal hit. But what is a DANA, and what are its consequences?

What is a DANA?

A DANA, formerly colloquially known as a "gota fría" (cold drop), is an Isolated Depression at High Levels. As explained by MeteorologíaenRed, this depression is "a phenomenon that fully affects the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The air undergoes a drastic change in atmospheric pressure levels, leading to the torrential rains seen during these times."

Its duration is usually two or three days, but the damage it causes leaves a mark for months. Not every DANA indeed leads to extreme weather events, but these phenomena are becoming increasingly violent due to climate change, causing extraordinary situations.

The portal warned a week ago that this depression could be record-breaking, as it could register an "unusual 500 hPa geopotential (about 5,500 meters in altitude) for this time of year according to climatology."

The Consequences of a DANA

One of the biggest problems Spain faces with the arrival of a DANA is the lack of preparedness in areas where this type of precipitation falls, as these towns are not prepared to handle so much water in such a short time. Sewers and water distribution networks quickly reach their limits, causing flooding in businesses and homes.

The Iberian Peninsula is prone to this type of precipitation, so each locality should have an Urban Management and Planning Plan to prevent worse damage year after year. However, not all communities undertake projects to protect themselves from phenomena like the DANA, and alongside the floods come disappearances and deaths; many people become trapped in their vehicles when they are caught off guard by the amount of water, while others are swept away or drowned by the currents or river overflows.

The passage of the DANA on September 3rd and 4th has wreaked havoc in much of the country, leaving at least three dead, five missing, dozens injured, and extensive damage to homes, vehicles, businesses, and public property, as well as causing delays in flights, trains, and road travel.

Meteorologists warn that the remnants of the DANA will mix with the remnants of Hurricane Franklin, once again resulting in a rainy weekend, although extreme precipitation isn't expected.

While it isn't possible to completely prevent the occurrence of DANAs, investment in appropriate infrastructure, sustainable urban planning, and increased awareness of climate change adaptation are essential to reduce the damage caused by these extreme events and protect the lives and property of people in Spain.

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