by Richard Davies, Floodlist
Heavy rainfall accompanied by melting snow caused severe flooding and landslides in the Navarre and Aragon regions of Spain in December 2021.
On 09 December the Navarre government activated an emergency situation due to the flood threat from rising rivers including the Ebro, Ega, Bidasoa, and Arga.
By 10 December the swollen Bidasoa river caused flooding in Elizondo, Baztan, and Sunbilla. Some riverside communities along the Arga river were also affected, including areas of Pamplona and the towns of Huarte, Villava, and Burlata. Dozens of people were evacuated from a care home in the municipality of Aranzadi. The following day the swollen Ebro river caused flooding in Tudela.
One fatality was reported after heavy rain caused a landslide in the village of Sunbilla. One man was reported missing and later found dead after being swept away by the flooding Bidasoa river in Elizondo.
On 12 December, President of Navarre Region, María Chivite, said a total of 74 municipalities were affected and announced a request to declare a natural disaster which would allow access to aid from the Spanish government and the European Union.
According to figures from Spain’s Meteorological Agency (AEMET), in a 24 hour period to 09 December, Bera in Navarre recorded 126.2 mm of rain and Roncesvalles 92.6 mm. The following day Roncesvalles saw a further 134.2 mm, while Luzaide recorded 91.8 mm and Esteribar 82.8 mm.
The Arga in Pamplona reached 4.80 metres 10 December, while the Ebro River in Castejón reached 7.94 metres as of 11 December. The government of Navarra said the Ebro at Tudela reached 6.17 metres on 12 December, higher than the 5.85 m seen during the floods of 2015.
Flooding along the Ebro later affected areas of in Aragon region including the capital Zaragoza, where the river reached at 5.52 metres on 14 December 2021. Areas along the river in the city were flooded and the Spanish Red Cross reported patients from a hospital in the city were evacuated.
The rapid mapping service from Copernicus EMS Mapping was activated to provide maps of flooded areas: https://emergency.copernicus.eu/mapping/list-of-components/EMSR555
Other areas of northern Spain saw heavy rainfall in late November 2021, when floods prompted rescues in Asturias and Cantabria and later the Basque Region.