Spain and France – Flooding Prompts Evacuations After Torrential Rain From Storm Gloria

Flooding triggered by heavy rain from Storm Gloria has caused damage and prompted evacuations in parts of south-eastern Spain and south-western France.

Authorities report that at least 13 people have now died in Spain as a result of the storm that hit the country with powerful winds, cold temperatures, snow, heavy rain and coastal flooding from 20 January.


Storm surge caused massive flooding of the Ebro Delta region, Tarragona Province. Images from Copernicus Emergency Management Service showed storm surge swept 3km inland.

Flooding from storm surge and massive waves was reported all along the south-eastern coast of Spain’s mainland and the Balearic Islands.

Images shared on Social Media showed the coastal town of Tossa de Mar in Girona Province, Catalonia, flooded by seafoam.

Spain’s meteorological service AEMET reported heavy rainfall from 20 January, when Barx in Valencia recorded 190.4mm. The following day Horta de Sant Joan in Tarragona Province, Catalonia, recorded 227.4mm. On 22 January, Sant Hilari in Girona recorded 183.2 mm of rain in 24 hours and Coín in Málaga 183.0 mm on 23 January.

Flooding was reported in areas around Girona after the Ter river broke its banks on 23 January. Flash flooding caused damage in Cártama in the province of Málaga, after the Guadalhorce River burst its banks on 24 January. The river reached 4.70 metres on 25 January, with floods leaving around 30 residents trapped in their homes.

The Spanish government held an emergency meeting on 24 January to deal with the impact of a storm, which includes damage to homes, schools and public buildings, collapsed bridges, damaged roads and railway lines and beach erosion.

Spanish media reported 13 storm-related fatalities: 4 in Catalonia, 5 in Valencia and 2 in Andalusia with 1 in the central region of Castile and León and 1 in the northern region of Asturias. Authorities said the death toll could rise further with 4 people still missing in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.


Storm Gloria also brought torrential rain to parts of south-western France from 20 January. Rainfall was particularly intense on 23 January with some areas recording 40 to 70 mm of rain in just three hours.

On 23 January, Meteo France said: “The equivalent of 4 to 5 months of rain fell in 72 hours in Roussillon…These intense rains caused exceptional floods in the departments of Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales.”

According to Meteo France figures, in a period from 20 January to 23 January, 418 mm of rain fell in Arles-sur-Tech, 351 mm in Amélie-les-Bains and 365 mm in Serralongue.

Around 1,500 people were evacuated in the towns of Claira, Pia, Torreilles, Le Barcarès, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, Rivesaltes, near Perpignan in Pyrénées-Orientales after levels of the Agly river rose quickly.

The Agly at Rivesaltes reached 7.41 metres in the early hours of 23 January, 2020, equaling its second highest level on record, set in 2014. The highest level of 7.66 metres was set in 2013.

Around 250 people were also evacuated in Aude due to flooding from the Aude river. In Coursan, the Aude river reached 8.25 metres on 23 January, equalling the highest level set in 2010.

Waves of up to 5 metres were reported along France’s south-western coastline, while around 60cm of snow fell in parts of the Pyrenees mountains.

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