Anniversary of 2002 flash floods in Santa Cruz which left eight dead and damage amounting to almost a hundred million Euros

It’s frequently misreported but today is the 16th anniversary of one of the worst storms ever to affect Tenerife, one in which eight people died and dozens were injured when torrential rain fell on Santa Cruz in 2002. Sometimes, people mistake our Santa Cruz with Santa Cruz county in California where people have died in various flash floods (eg see HERE), and people frequently see reports cropping up in the media about deaths in flash floods in Tenerife but these all date to the 2002 storm even though they appear to carry later dates (eg see HERE).

On 31 March 2002, extremely heavy rainfall affected the whole metropolitan area in Tenerife, including the capital Santa Cruz and La Laguna, and extending up the Anaga flank. Some 232.6 litres per square metre fell in 24 hours (129.9 litres per square metre in one hour), the heaviest rainfall in a single day since records began in 1869. It reached a peak between midafternoon and 8pm, and started to weaken around midnight, by which time eight people had died (three more than the five lives the storm was originally thought to have cost) and dozens had been injured. Materially, many lost personal belongings, some 70,000 were left without light and some 4,000 with damaged property – some houses were completely destroyed – losses calculated at around €90m.

The storm wasn’t quite the great storm of 1826 which left 500-1000 dead (see HERE), and there have been serious flash floods here since, notably in February 2010 and October 2014, but the torrential rains of March 2002 have gone down in recent history as one of the worst downpours in Tenerife in living memory. You’ll see “31M” (31 March) quite a few places today.

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