MADRID — Authorities in the Spanish city of Zaragoza braced themselves for a critical surge in the Ebro River on Tuesday after flooding further upstream in recent days was blamed for two deaths.
The river’s flow rate rose to 70,600 cubic feet per second — nearly double Sunday’s rate as water from torrential rain and thawing snow tumbled down the Ebro Valley.
During the last major flooding in the region in 2015, the flow rate reached 2,400 cubic meters (84,700 cu ft) per second.
The swollen river cuts through Zaragoza, a city of around 700,000 in northeastern Spain. Flood water has already inundated much of the nearby farmland.
City authorities attempted to minimize potential damage by taking precautionary measures along the riverbank, including evacuations and traffic diversions. Dirt trucks were on standby to shore up riverbanks and protect urban areas.
Rescuers had to rescue two people from a van that broke down trying to cross a flooded area.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, while visiting the affected areas, said his cabinet will declare them “disaster areas” on Friday, allowing for accelerated aid to farmers and others.
He said floods had become “much more frequent” in Spain recently due to climate change.
The Ebro is the second longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, stretching 930 km from the mountains of Cantabria to the Mediterranean Sea.