Torrential rain that has been falling in Spain’s Mediterranean area left two people dead today in Caudete, a municipality in Albacete. Although they were originally reported to be a married couple, the latest reports by government officials describe them as a brother and sister aged 61 and 51. The victims’ car was dragged along by flooding, according to a tweet from the 112 emergency services.
The extreme weather has caused flooding in other parts of eastern Spain. The Clariano river in Ontinyent, a village in Valencia, has also burst its banks, requiring 40 people to be rescued and 150 evacuated from their homes.
A small tornado formed at around three in the morning on Dénia’s Raset beach, in Alicante province, damaging the municipal sports center and ripping up trees, traffic signs and roofs. Winds of 104 kilometers per hour were recorded.
Footage of the Clariano River overflowing in Ontinyent.
The rising waters of the Clariano river have also destroyed a 16th-century bridge in Aielo de Malferit (Valencia). The centuries-old structure “is completely gone,” said the mayor, Juanra Espí.
Spain has been hit by a bout of extreme weather this week, with the eastern region of Valencia in particular battered by torrential rain and flooding. The unusual conditions are the result of a gota fría, literally “cold drop,” a term used in Spain to describe a sudden fall in temperatures along the east coast caused by the arrival of very cold polar air.
A school wall in Ontinyent also collapsed on Thursday because of the extreme weather. The heavy rainfall caused the Cànyoles River to rise and the Bosquet ravine in Moixent also flooded, with several cars dragged away in the torrential flow of water.
According to AEMET, by 7am this morning 74.5 millimeters of rain had already fallen in Ontinyent, 71.8 millimeters in Pego (Alicante province), 64.2 millimeters in Fontanars dels Alforins, 54.7 millimeters in Ibiza airport and 33.4 millimeters in Murcia.
The “cold drop” hit the Mediterranean area on Monday and is forecast to last until midday on Friday. According to Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET, the extreme weather will intensify as it strengthens north of Algeria and in the southeast of the peninsula, leading to more torrential storms. Almería, Alicante, Valencia and Murcia have been put on red alert – the highest on the scale – for heavy rainfall and storms, with between 60 and 90 millimeters expected to fall in an hour, and more than 200 millimeters in total.
Cars dragged away in the Bosquet ravine in Moixent (La Costera, Valencia).
“These storms will be among the worst in the last 13 years for their torrential intensity, persistence, the presence of very strong winds of 80, 90 and even 100 kilometers per hour, because there could be hail more than two centimeters big and there is the possibility of waterspouts and tornadoes in the Levante, with waves up to four meters tall,” said AEMET spokesperson Rubén del Campo.
The wall of a school collapses in Ontinyent.
Almería, Alicante and Murcia will remain on red alert for rain and storms until Friday morning. Orange alerts for heavy rainfall (the second highest on the scale) have been issued for Granada in the southern region of Andalusia, Albacete in the central Castile-La Mancha region, Valencia, and Ibiza and Formentera in the Balearic Islands, while yellow alerts have been issued for Jaén (Andalusia), Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha) and Castellón (Valencia).
The “cold drop” is expected to weaken over the weekend but it is likely to move inland, where heavy rainfall has also been forecast for the center and the south of the peninsula.
English version by Melissa Kitson.