Cold drop

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The cold drop (Spanish: gota fría) is an archaic meteorological term used popularly in Spain which has commonly come to refer to any high impact rainfall events occurring in the autumn along the Spanish Mediterranean coast.[1]

In its classic sense it is a closed upper-level low which has become completely displaced (cut off) from basic westerly current, and moves independently of that current. Cold drops may remain nearly stationary for days, or on occasion may move westward opposite to the prevailing flow aloft (i.e., retrogression).[2] The term is also used to describe the meteorological phenomenon associated. In Spain, it appears when a front of very cold polar air, a jet stream, advances slowly over Western Europe, at high altitude (normally 5–9 km or 3–5.5 mi).

In modern usage the term is used to refer to any high impact rainfall event during the Autumn along the Mediterranean coast of Spain and can be analogous to the French "Episode Cevenol", or Mediterranean Episode.[3]

Spanish case[edit]

If a sudden cut off in the stream takes place, caused by various reasons, like the effect of the high pressures, a pocket of cold air detaches from the main jet stream, penetrating to the south over the Pyrenees into the warm air in Spain, causing its most dramatic effects in the Southeast of Spain, particularly along the Spanish Mediterranean coast, especially in the Valencian Community.

This phenomenon is associated with extremely violent downpours and storms, with wind speeds of 100–200 km (60–120 mi)/hour, but not always accompanied by significant rainfall. For this it is necessary that the high atmospheric torrential rain instability in the lower air layers to combine with a significant amount of water vapors. Such a combination causes the masses of cold air to quickly discharge up to 500 liters per square meter in extremely rapid rain episodes. This phenomenon usually lasts a very short time, (from a few hours to a maximum of four days) as it exhausts its water reserves without receiving a new supply.

The clouds are formed in the Atlantic Ocean. The more extreme the difference in temperature, the more water is stored in the clouds. The Cold Drop can produce snow or hail.

This way a great mass of cold air rotates and floats like a drop over a warm area.

The torrential rain caused by cold drop can result in devastation caused by torrents and flash floods. For instance, the great Valencia flood of 1957 was the result of a 3-day-long cold drop.

Cold Drops in other localities[edit]

The Cold drop (Gota fria) is equally apparent near the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the Colombian Caribbean, with peaks surpassing 5 km in altitude in close proximity to a warm sea.

In fiction[edit]

A sudden rain over Valencia is a plot element in the 2016 Spanish thriller Cien años de perdón.

The term gives name to a hit song by Colombian singer Carlos Vives, written by composer Emiliano Zuleta Baquero. The song, "La gota fría" (The Cold Drop), describes a rivalry while alluding to the weather phenomenon metaphorically.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martín León, Francisco (2003). "LAS GOTAS FRÍAS / DANAS IDEAS Y CONCEPTOS BÁSICOS" (PDF). Servicio de Técnicas de Análisis y Predicción, INM (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 September 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "NOAA's National Weather Service - Glossary". Retrieved 2014-03-25. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Los episodios de lluvias intensas otoñales en Francia: el cévenol". (in Spanish). 14 October 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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