Emergency measures in place as downpour makes Spanish rivers overflow

Torrential rain which started drenching Spain at the weekend has caused major problems in the south-east of the country, with rivers bursting their banks and roads closed to traffic.

Emergency measures in place as downpour makes Spanish rivers overflow
The Segura river flooding Orihuela after it burst its banks. Photo: Manuel Lorenzo/AFP

In Murcia, level two of the autonomous community’s anti-flooding civil protection plan has been activated, which means state resources can be called in to battle the problems. Classes have been suspended in 28 municipalities in the community and an amber weather alert is in place following heavy rain in Campo de Cartagena and Mazarron.

More than 20 Murcian roads have been closed. The regional government has recommended that travelling by road on Monday should only be done if absolutely necessary and always via main roads, with secondary and minor roads avoided.

More than 350 people were rescued from cars and residencies in the area at the weekend due to the heavy rain, according to the emergency services.

In the Valencian Community the rain has also been intense, leading to classes being called off in 50 towns across Alicante and Valencia.

The Segura river broke its banks at several points in Orihuela, Alicante, something which hasn’t happened since 1987, and a level one flood warning is in place in the region on Monday, with more water expected to flow into the area from Murcia over the course of the day.

The Segura reached a height of six metres at various points, and at 05:00 on Monday morning flowed over its banks around the Puente del Rey bridge in central Orihuela.

In Valencia’s Ontinyent municipality meanwhile the river Clariano has also overflown, with residents capturing dramatic footage of the intense water on Monday.

Heavy rain has struck the Balearic Islands too, and the downpour is due to move into Catalonia over the course of Monday.


Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.