Drought of 1989-1990


Drought Event Summary

"The 1989/90 drought was less severe but heralded the onset of a series of drought events in Europe that lasted through much of the early 1990s"(Bradford, 2000). This event had two peaks, one centered in the western Mediterranean (Spain and Portugal) during the spring on 1989 and a more severe drought event that occurred in the western Mediterranean during the summer of 1990. This western Mediterranean drought eventually expanded north and west to affect regions as far away as southern France.

Drought Statistics

Approx. duration: 2/1989-10/1990

Date of SPI-6 min: 23/2/1989

Date of hydrological min: 11/5/1990

Affected regions: Iberian peninsula (1989), eastern Mediterranean (1990)

Climatological Drought

The 1989-1990 drought event originated with rainfall deficiencies across much of the Mediterranean during the winter and spring of 1989, with the maximum affected area occurring in February 1989. Drought conditions began to recede during the summer of 1989 due to occasional, short wet periods in most of Europe except for Turkey where the drought remained severe.

Precipitation shortages began to occur again during the winter of 1989. This shortage eventually produced a severe drought in in late spring and summer for much of the eastern Mediterranean region.

Progression of climatological (SPI-6) drought. Climatological drought is defined by the SPI-6, which sums precipitation over the previous 6 months and transforms this value to the standard normal distribution. Negative SPI values (shown in red) represent dry conditions, measured in standard deviations from typical conditions. Percent area in drought is calculated by summing all cells less than the 20th percentile (SPI < -0.84).

Hydrological Drought

Precipitation deficits in 1989 did not produce particularly severe hydrological droughts in 1989. Instead, the most severe hydrological droughts occurred during the spring and summer of 1990. This drought originated in southeastern Europe during the winter and the hydrological drought peaked in May when it affected most of southern and central Europe.

By late summer, the drought centre had shifted back towards southeastern Europe. Drought conditions remained in the eastern Mediterranean for several months, while stremaflow returned to normal in central Europe.

Peak hydrological drought. with Hydrological drought is based on output nine large-scale hydrological models. Viewed spatially (above), areas with runoff below the 10,20, and 30th percentiles are shown in red, orange and yellow, respectively.

Drought Impacts

Two consecutive years with low precipitation impacted the eastern Mediterranean most severely. In Greece, there were reductions in agricultural production as well as shortages of ground and surface water. Water reservoirs which supplied Athens reached dangerously low levels in October 1990.

Location of drought impact reports. Darker colors refer to more reported impacts in the EDII. Scroll over each country to see more detail.

Impact Detail Table

Drought Event Country Start Date End Date Impact Impact Category Impact Description NUTS 1 NUTS 2 NUTS 3 Reference
1989 France France 2/1989 1989 5.1 Impaired navigability of streams (reduction of load, increased need of interim storage of goods at ports) the navigation between Toulouse and Carcassonne cannot be guaranteed Sud-Ouest Midi-Pyrénées Haute-Garonne