Fact-check: Can there be a drought if there has been a recent episode of rain or snow?

A plant is photographed on a cracked earth after the water level has dropped in the Sau reservoir, about 100 km north of Barcelona, Spain
A plant is photographed on a cracked earth after the water level has dropped in the Sau reservoir, about 100 km north of Barcelona, Spain Copyright Emilio Morenatti/AP
By Sophia Khatsenkova
Share this article
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Recent droughts in Italy, Spain, and France have sparked a wave of different conspiracy theories. Here's the three most common ones we've debunked.


Heatwaves, droughts and floods are hitting countries across Europe, in particular Spain, France and Italy.

The European Commission says that it could be an even drier summer than in previous years. 

But climate change deniers are actively downplaying these extreme weather phenomena on social media and questioning the existence of global warming.

The Cube decided to analyse some of the most common misconceptions and misinformation about droughts in the region.

Can there be a drought even if it recently rained or snowed?

The first misconception that is quite popular on social media is that there can’t be a drought if there’s been a recent episode of rain, snow, or even flooding. This recently happened in certain French regions. 

“It's raining everywhere all day, even in the South. It's snowing in the Alps and in the Pyrenees! Despite a very rainy month of March and April, the media dare to talk about droughts and global warming every day!" exclaimed one Twitter user. 

But this reasoning is flawed according to Tom Phillips, a climate science educator. 

"I think what people often get confused about is if you look at the average rainfall over a whole year, it doesn't explain when the rain is falling. 

"If you have all of your rain for the whole year on one day you're going to get a flood. Then if for the rest of the year, there is no rain, you're still going to get a drought," he told Euronews.

"What farmers want is to get a certain amount of rain each week. Droughts harden the ground, so when the rain does fall, it just runs straight off and you lose it almost straight away."

Are droughts caused by removing dams?

The second big disinformation narrative is that droughts especially in Spain are man-made because of the process of removing dams across the country.

Euronews had previously fact-checked this and found many of these barriers were built decades ago and have either been abandoned or no longer serve their purpose (to supply water to cool a nuclear power plant, for example).

The majority of the barriers removed were low-rise ones and not major water dams and reservoirs.

These demolitions are seen as a good move by environmental experts because they restore the river’s natural flow, improve water quality and it makes them rich in fish again.

According to experts, removal of human-constructed artificial barriers could also better regulate floods as well as droughts.

Are chemtrails to blame for droughts in Europe?

One common conspiracy theory we’ve seen come back recently: droughts are caused by chemtrails from airplanes that dissolve clouds and prevent rain. 

Multiple social media users accused aircraft trails visible in the sky of being chemicals deliberately spread to create droughts in order to subdue the population. 

"When you see these kinds of white plumes behind the plane, what you're looking at are contrails or vapor trails," explained Tom Phillips.  


"When a plane burns fuel, you get some water vapor coming out of the back. And if you've got humid air and it's cold air, you get these floating clouds, which are perfectly normal." 

"And it's not like you're getting more and more flights over areas that are getting droughts. If that was the case, you'd expect all these droughts to be over the most busiest flight routes and airports."

Watch the video above to learn more.

Share this article

You might also like