by Richard Davies, floodlist
The period April to May 2020 was marked by two significant flood events in southern Europe.
Province of Castellón, Valencia Region, Spain
Torrential rain caused flash flooding in coastal areas of Province of Castellón in the Valencia Region of Spain on 01 April 2020. Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET) reported some areas recorded their highest daily rainfall totals in more than 30 years. On 01 April, 48mm of rain fell in a 4 hour period in Vilafamés. La Pobla Tornesa recorded 197.6mm of rain in 24 hours to 01 April.
The worst affected areas were the towns of Almassora, Borriana, Oropesa and Vilafamés. Firefighters were called on to rescue 91 people trapped in their homes or vehicles in over 40 rescue operations, mostly in Almassora but also in Borriana and Oropesa. The provincial government also reported some flooding in Benicàssim, Villarreal, Vinaròs, Traiguera, Benicarló and Peñíscola.
Gironde and Landes Departments, France
Heavy rain from 09 May 2020 caused flash flooding in southwestern France, prompting evacuations and flood rescues in Gironde and Landes departments. Météo-France reported Retjons and Belin-Béliet, both in Landes, recorded 136mm of rain in 36 hours to 11 May. In Tarn Department, La Vintrou recorded 261mm during the same period.
In Gironde, 46 people were rescued by firefighters following rising waters. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Firefighters carried out more than 500 interventions during the severe weather, mainly for flooded homes and cellars. Almost 90 roads were flooded.
In Landes, firefighters carried out 132 interventions and evacuated 12 people. One person was injured. Around 30 roads were closed in the department due to flooding. The rain caused river levels to rise, including the Midouze in Mont-de-Marsan, capital of the Landes department, which reached 6.35 metres on 12 May, beating the previous record high of 5.84m set in January 2009.
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