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13 Oct 2005 ...'Hurricane Vince' visits southern Spain
On the 9th of October 2005 a small tropical storm was detected in the eastern Atlantic by the Hurricane Centre in Miami (Florida). It was an unusual storm in many respects, and when it dissipated it moved quickly east, crossing southern Spain during the 11th.

Hurricanes are hazards that Caribbean countries are long used to. Rarely does a season pass without somewhere in the West Indies, or the southern states of USA, experiencing a storm that produces much damage and, all too frequently, loss of life. The summer and autumn of 2005 was no exception, and at the time of writing,  this year has seen the highest number of hurricanes since 1933.

The catastrophic results of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans,  and adjacent areas, are well documented. Shortly afterwards,  Hurricane Rita bore down on Texas but thankfully it was relatively benign. The next in the series, Hurricane Stan,  although not notable for very strong winds, nevertheless, was associated with torrential rain. The resulting floods and landslides had a disastrous impact across parts of Central America, and again, there was considerable loss of life. In this context,  Hurricane Vince would not normally be worthy of comment. However,  from the viewpoint of a weather enthusiast,  this particular storm was very interesting indeed.

The first hurricane advisory for 'Vince' was broadcast by the National Hurricane Center (Miami) at 1500 UTC on the 9th October. As can be seen from the satellite pictures below, an 'eye' was already apparent at the centre of the cloud cluster just to the northeast of Madeira in the bottom left of the pictures.

0800UTC  9th Oct 2005    copyright 2005 EUMETSAT 

1500UTC  9th Oct 2005         copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

 Infrared Satellite pictures are  for 9th October at 0800 and 1500 UTC respectively. 
Note the unsettled appearance to the  weather already occurring over southern Iberia and Morocco. However, much of the cloud was high level, and significant precipitation was generally confined to southern Portugal, where Sagres, on the southwestern tip of the country, had 11 millimetres of rain in the 12 hours ending at 1200 UTC on the 9th.

Madeira, although semi-tropical with an abundance of flowers, excellent growing weather and some beautiful scenery, is not noted for the warmth of its surrounding ocean. In fact, the sea temperatures off the north coast of Germany sometimes exceed those off  Madeira during the summer months, and with values probably no higher than 22 Celsius (72F) some interesting questions can be raised.
It is genenerally accepted by meteorologists that a sea temperature of at least 27 Celsius (81F) is needed to sustain a hurricane. Given that 'Hurricane Vince' actually appeared to form over these relatively cool waters, there must be a question mark  as to whether this tropical depression should ever have been named in the first place.

That first advisory for 'Vince' issued at 1500 UTC was for a position at 34N 19.2W with a central pressure of 1001 millibars and maximum sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 55 knots.
It was expected to move slowly northeast and weaken, eventually being absorbed by a frontal system approaching from the west. 'Hurricane Vince' had other ideas.

The sequence of infrared satellite pictures shown below depict the gradual intensification of the tropical depression as it continued to drift northeast over the following 9 hours.



1800UTC  9th Oct 2005    copyright 2005 EUMETSAT 

2100UTC 9th Oct 2005    copyright 2005 EUMETSAT  

 0000UTC 10th Oct 2005  copyright 2005 EUMETSAT 

0300UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT 


The advisory from the Hurricane Center issued at 2100 UTC on the 9th suggested that 'Vince' had indeed become a hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 65 knots and gusts of 80 knots. The estimated central pressure was down to 987 millibars. Fortunately, the hurricane stayed far enough away from Madeira to prevent any abnormally strong winds affecting the island, but heavy showers pounded the southern coast  with 37 millimetres of rain recorded at Funchal Airport in the 24 hours ending at 0600 UTC on the 10th.


By 0300 UTC on the 10th, satellite imagery suggested less symmetry within the eye of the hurricane, maybe the first signs of eventual dissipation. However, Miami still suggested a centre of 987 millibars and hurricane-force winds. The slow track northeast was expected to continue before arriving close to Lisbon (Portugal) as a gradually weakening extra-tropical depression by the middle of the 11th. The following advisory at 0900 UTC on the 10th had downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm again with a central pressure near 994 millibars and sustained winds of 50 knots. The storm was now expected to accelerate and take a more southerly track eastwards towards southern Portugal and dissipate by 1200 UTC on the 11th. The dissipation process had begun, and is depicted well in the sequence below.



0600UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

0900UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

1300UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

1500UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

The tropical depression had lost its distinctive 'eye' by 0900 UTC although it looked fairly menacing through the afternoon as the clump of cloud slowly headed towards the Straits of Gibraltar. Late in the afternoon, vigorous convection developed on the western flank of the depression. The 1500 UTC advisory from Miami  suggested a storm centre of 1002 millibars but with steady winds of no more than 40 knots. Interestingly, the following advisory at 2100 UTC had deepened the Low to 1000 millibars but with sustained winds now down to 35 knots. At 0300 UTC on the 11th,  Miami had intensified the storm a little, with a pressure down to 998 millibars and winds gusting to 50knots. A coastal  watch was suggested by the National Hurricane Center for northwest Morocco and southern Portugal.  The influence of  'Vince' was now being felt in southern Iberia.

The infrared satellite sequence below depicts the continuing eastward passage of the remnants of 'Vince' until it reaches landfall.

 1800UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

0000UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

0300UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

0600UTC 10th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

Although not as marked as when 'Vince' was close to Madeira, the anti-clockwise circulation can still be seen in the dark grey, lower clouds, in the images above. This was borne out by land observations in southern Portugal. At 0600 UTC a report from Faro Airport,  on the Algarve,  gave a brisk southeast wind, the pressure falling at a rate of 5 millimetres in a 3-hour period, and heavy rain.  The pressure was 1004 millibars, suggesting that the centre of the depression was passing east not far from this southern coast. The rainfall from the 'Vince' episode was only 15 millimetres at Faro, but other factors were now coming into play to give 'Vince' a last sting in his tail.

The remains of 'Vince' reached land close to Cadiz (Spain) around mid morning on the 11th with a central pressure near 1002 millibars. It then continued steadily east-northeast as a slowly weakening and filling  depression, eventually arriving in the Mediterranean south of Alicante in the early hours of the 12th.  Several new factors came into play as the old storm crossed southern Spain. An upper trough was advancing south-eastwards over Iberia further destabilising the air. Land temperatures were rising steadily as the sun rose in the morning sky, and as the centre moved up the Guadalquivir valley towards Cordoba the terrain became more rugged with the air having to rise over these sierran heights. There were already some heavy, thundery showers around the coasts in association with the depression ,  31 millimetres in the 6 hours up to 1200 UTC on the 11th,  as the centre moved close to Jerez de la Frontera, north of Cadiz; 33 millimetres fell at Malaga Airport in the 36 hours up to 1800 UTC on the 11th, and 50 millimetres fell on Gibraltar in the 24 hours up to 1800 UTC on the 11th.

All this was much  welcomed rain for the drought-ridden region, but not all parts received very much. East of Malaga, towards Motril, only around 10 millimetres fell, with 3 millimetres in Almeria and little more than a damping at Murcia.  With October normally one of the wettest  months of the year in these parts of Spain, there were no exceptional rainfall totals, apart from at Cordoba, that is. The satellite sequence shows how an enormous cumulonimbus cloud developed just ahead of the upper trough, aided in triplicate by the mass of warm, moist air in association with Vince.



0900UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

1300UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

1500UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

1800UTC 11th Oct 2005   copyright 2005 EUMETSAT

The average rainfall for October in Cordoba is 68 millimetres. In just 12 hours on the 11th there were 86 millimetres. This was the final goodbye from 'Vince' and as the cloud sequence above shows, the system weakened in the late afternoon and evening with a vast area of sun skies stretching from Madeira to Cadiz where a few hours previous the most unusual of 'hurricanes' had been.

Copyright '' 2005.
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