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Storm Gloria: Death toll rises to 13, over 1 500 evacuated in France after two months’ worth of rain in 48 hours


At least 13 people have died in Spain and more than 1 500 were evacuated in southwest France, authorities confirmed on January 24, 2020, after powerful Storm Gloria caused widespread flooding and left a trail of destruction in its wake. In parts of France, Gloria dumped approximately two months' worth of rain in just two days. According to Meteo France forecaster Olivier Proust, it was the worst storm to hit the region during the winter period since January 1982.

In Spain, the storm dumped heavy snow and rain across parts of the country, disrupting transport and destroying infrastructure. Local residents said they had "never seen anything like this."

The Ebro River Delta between Barcelona and Valencia burst up to 3 km (1.8 miles) inland, flooding around 3 000 ha (7 413 acres) of paddy fields.

Streets were also left inundated and coated in seafoam in the coastal town of Tossa de Mar.

On Thursday, January 23, residents in 26 zones in Girona were advised to avoid going out until floodwater recedes after the Ter river burst its banks.

Spanish meteorologists and oceanographers said Gloria produced a record-breaking significant wave height of 8.44 meters (27.69 feet) off the port city of Valencia, breaking the previous significant wave height record in the Mediterranean Sea of 8.15 m (26.73 feet); set in Mahon, Menorca in 2003.

On Friday, January 24, the number of fatalities has reached 13: five in Valencia, four in Catalonia,  two in Andalusia, one in the central region of Castile and Leon, and another one in the northern region of Asturias.

According to authorities, four more are still missing, including a 25-year-old Birton and a 41-year-old Spanish man in northwestern Ibiza, and a 27-year-old in Mallorca.

The national weather authority said the storm had started to die down on Thursday, but more than 100 roads were still closed.

In France, more than 1 500 people have been evacuated in the southwest region as the storm caused widespread flooding. Gloria produced waves of up to 5 m (16 feet) and dumped around 60 cm (23.6 inches) of snow in the Canigou, Catalans.

Meteo France placed the departments of Aude and Pyrenees Orientale under red alert, after approximately two months' worth of rain fell on the area in just two days, disrupting power to 23 000 homes on Wednesday, January 22.

According to Meteo France forecaster Olivier Proust, Gloria was the worst storm to hit the region during the winter period since January 1982.

The Agly river, which flows north of Perpignan, was also placed on red alert, indicating a risk of major flooding.

Furthermore, the agency also issued an orange alert for the departments of  Ariege and Haute-Garonne.

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Featured image credit: EUMETSAT, Meteostat-11/Zoom Earth. Acquired on January 23, 2020.


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