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WEATHER

WATCH: Devastating floods and torrential rain hit much of Spain

Hours of heavy rains triggered flooding in central, eastern and northern Spain on Wednesday with some coastal areas overwhelmed by flash floods that washed away cars and trees.

WATCH: Devastating floods and torrential rain hit much of Spain
Cars were dragged down to the seashore in Alcanar as huge torrents of fast-moving water surged through the streets, sweeping away everything in its path. Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP

The storms particularly affected towns in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Navarra and Catalonia, reported Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet).

One of the worst-hit areas was Alcanar, a town 200 kilometres (160 miles) south of Barcelona, where huge torrents of fast-moving water surged through the streets, sweeping away everything in its path.

Two major roads in the area were cut off and the local train service partially suspended, with local officials urging residents to stay at home.

Local news reported that 77 people were evacuated from their houses due to the flooding and taken to nearby hotels and sports centres.

Weather agency Meteocat reported that 252 liters of rain per square meter fell on Alcanar in just three hours, which is more than half of the rainfall for the entire year. 

On Wednesday and before dawn on Thursday, heavy rain also fell in the Madrid area, Castilla La-Mancha and the northern Navarra region.

This caused severe flooding in the towns around Toledo such as Cobisa, Argés and Polán, as well as on a local motorway. 

Spain’s AEMET weather service has warned of a “serious risk” of flooding in central and northern parts of the country, as well as along its Mediterranean coastline, with the heavy rains expected to persist into Thursday.

AEMET Murcia has also reported heavy storms in the Murcia region on Thursday morning, around the areas of Lorca, Águilas and Mazarrón. 

Thirteen regions, particularly those in the north and east of the country, currently have all or part of their territory under yellow or orange warnings due to storms.

Significant rainfall is still expected across much of Catalonia, the Valencian Community, Aragón, the Balearic Islands and Navarra. 

The Valencia region also experienced storms and heavy rain over the past couple of days, particularly in the northern area of the Castellón province, in the town of Vinaròs. 

Torrential rains are becoming ever more frequent in Spain, with flooding causing seven deaths in the southeast in September 2019, while another storm left 13 dead in the Balearic island of Mallorca a year earlier.

Experts say global warming has increased the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, making episodes of intense rainfall more likely to happen, raising the risk of flooding.

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WEATHER

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.

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