Spain – Storm Surge From Storm Gloria Reaches 3km Inland

A severe storm brought powerful winds, cold temperatures, snow and coastal flooding to wide areas of Spain from 20 January. Media blamed at least 4 deaths on the storm. Satellite images show storm surge swept 3km inland in Tarragona Province, resulting in severe damage to rice paddies and the ecosystem.

Storm surge flooded 3 km inland along Spain’s eastern coast 20 to 22 January 2020. Image: Copernicus EMS

The storm, named “Gloria” by the State Meteorological Agency of Spain, AEMET, produced waves of over 8 metres along the coastline of south-eastern Spain on 20 January.

AEMET reported wind gusts of 115 km/h in Oliva, Valencia, on 20 January and 106 km/h in Barcelona the next day.

Heavy rain was also reported, with Barx in Valencia recording 190.4mm of rain in 24 hours to 20 January. The following day Horta de Sant Joan in Tarragona Province, Catalonia, recorded 227.4mm.

Media reported damaging coastal floods in Valencia, Alicante, Tarragona and Barcelona Provinces.

Images from Copernicus Emergency Management Service show storm surge on the east coast of Spain swept 3km inland, devastating rice paddies in the Ebro river delta south of Barcelona. The mayor of Deltebre, Lluís Soler, estimated around 30 sq km of rice fields have been flooded by seawater and said “the delta is in emergency!”

In Valencia Region, schools were suspended and several roads cut off. The storm also forced the closure of Alicante airport, leading to the cancellation of nearly 200 flights. Unusually cold temperatures were also reported in the south-east, and at least 2 people died as a result of hypothermia.

Strong winds and heavy snowfall affected central and northern parts of the country. One person died as a result of strong winds in Avila Province, Castile and León Region, and another in a vehicle accident on snowbound roads in the Asturias Region.