After epic snow and big freeze… now Madrid braced for floods

After epic snow and big freeze… now Madrid braced for floods
File image of a puddle in Madrid's Plaza Mayor. Photo: AFP
The start of 2021 has been a turbulent one weatherwise for Spain’s capital, recording the heaviest snowfall in at least half a century followed by a deep freeze that has seen the mercury plummet to record low temperatures and the snow frozen into icy blocks.

Now, the capital is braced for flooding with authorities battling to clear ice and debris caused by Filomena from drains before the next storm arrives.

Technicians from Madrid City Hall have identified at least 404 trouble spots across the capital that are liable to flooding when the next deluge hits on Wednesday.

A team of 320 workers have spent Monday and Tuesday inspecting drains, tunnels and sewers to clear debris caused when branches broke off tens of thousands of trees that were damaged during the snowstorm.

Added to that is the accumulation of rubbish in the streets as bins stood uncollected and overflowing with access blocked by heavy snow.

Huge piles of ice still that are still blocking pavements and covering drains will add to the risk of flooding, explained Madrid’s head of Environment and Mobility, Borja Carabante, as warmer temperatures arrive causing melting that will add to the volume of water being drained through the city.

Spain’s meteorological agency has forecast torrential rain bringing between 10 and 20 litres per square metre to the metropolitan region when the storm hits on Wednesday. That rainfall is likely to increase to 40 litres per square metre in the mountains outside Madrid.

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