Floods in Europe in 2020: effects and consequences

Recent work published by the German observatory Germanwatch, GLOBAL CLIMATE RISK INDEX 2021. Who suffers the most from extreme weather events?. Climate-related loss events in 2019 and 2000-2019, shows how storms and their direct consequences -precipitations, floods and landslides- were one of the main causes of loss and damage in 2019, base don the analysis of the Global Climate Risk Index (IRC).

This fact, however, was overcome in 2020 by doubling the number of notifications with the consequent human and material losses

Floods in the City Center of Zagreb (Croatia), July 24/25, 2020. Image taken from EFAS.

IRC is a concept that reflects the vulnerability of countries to the direct consequences –deaths and economic losses– of extreme weather events. It is measured annually by Germanwatch based on data from Munich Re´s NatCatSERVICE.

As explained in the publication “(…) the IRC indicates the level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather events that countries should understand as a warning to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe weather events in the futures”.

The IRC is not a complete classification system for climate vulnerability; it is based on past data and should not be used for a linear projection of future climate impacts, nor does it take into account important aspect such as rising sea levels, melting glaciers, or warmer and more acidic seas.

However, it contributes to raising awareness of the impact of the effects of climate change and the consequences it generates on people and property.

Based on the information extracted from news published in EFAS , the following table shows some of the effects and consequences of the floods throughout almost all of 2020 (we do not have data for March, November and December).

Although we still do not have information on floods reported by EFAS for the months of November and December, it can be said that floods are now phenomena that occur throughout all seasons, in any corner of Europe and always with potentially devastating effects:





Storm Glory

  • Strong winds, strog waves, swell and torrential rains on the south and east coast.
  • Serious flooding around Girona due to the overflow of the Ter river. 
  • Flash floods in the province of Malaga due to the overflow of the Guadalhorce and Campanillas rivers.
  • In material losses: the storm surge swept 3 km inland in the Ebro river delta, south of Barcelona; in Deltebre (Tarragona) about 30 km2 of rice fields had been flooded by seawater.
  • In human losses: 4 deaths related to storms in Catalonia, 5 in Valencia, 2 in Andalusia, 1 in Castilla y León and 1 in the northern región of Asturias; in addition to the disappearance of four people in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.
  • Exceptional flooding in the Aude and the Eastern Pyrenees- department.
  • In Roussillon, Arles-sur-Tech, Amélie-les-Bains and Serralongue, the rains were very intense for three days in a row.
  • Around 1.500 people were evacuated in several cities near Perpignan in the Eastern Pyrenees due to the increase in the level of Agly river, and about 250 people in Aude due to flooding from the Aude river.



Storm Ciara


Storm Dennis

  • Northern Scotland, South Wales and the West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire regions of England were hit hard by flooding and heavy rains.
  • Floods affected parts of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge in Calder Valley  (West Yorkshire).
  • 3.431 properties were flooded. The loss of the insured real estate market is estimated at around 344 million euros.
  • Flood rescues at Appleby in Cumbria and the Ribble Valley and areas around Blackpool.
  • Evacutions in Greater Manchester
  • Floods affecting parts of Ireland: Shannon, Northern Ireland
April Spain
  • Flash floods in the province of Castellón: Almanssora, Burriana, Oropesa, Vilafamés, Benicasim, Villarreal, Vinarós, Traiguera, Benicarló and Peñíscola.
  • 91 people were rescued, some trapped in their homes and others in vehicles.
May France
  • Flash floods in Gironde andLandes, in southwestern France.


  • Evacutions and rescues in Gironde: 46 people rescued; 500 interventions in homes and basements and in 90 roads due to floods.
  • In Landes: 12 people were evacuated, 132 interventions and 30 roads were closed due to floods.
June Ukraine
  • Strongs rains and floods in the western regions of Ukraine: Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Zakarpattia, Ternopil and Lviv.
  • In human losses, 3 people died.
  • More tan 14.000 homes were damaged by the floods in 342 settlements.
  • Hundreds of people were rescued or evacuated.
  • About 1.500 people were transferred to temporary accommodation.
  • Bridges, roads, towns and cities flooded, dams destroyed.
  • More than 270 settlements were without electricity due to the destruction of power lines.
July Croatia
  • Flash floods in Zagreb.
  • Death of a firefighter.
  • Severe flooding in the center of Zagreb: disruption of public transport, flooded basements, impassable streets.
September Ireland
  • Flash floods in County Galway.
  • Freakup of the Owenglin river.


  • Evacuation of houses and schools.
  • The city of Clifden, on the coast, was badly affected evacuation of people in some 17 properties, roads closes.


Storm Alex


  • Floods in Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Breil-sur-Roya (Alpes Maritimes).
  • In human losses: 7 deaths and 9 missing persons.
  • More than 400 interventions.
  • More than 2.000 houses with damage.
  • Floods in Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and the Col de Tende mountain pass (Alps between the Italian and Frech border).


  • More than 2.500 interventions in the Piedmont, Liguria and Lombardy regions.
  • Rescues of people trapped in vehicles along the Col de Tende mountain pas in the Alps.
  • 3 people died.

SOURCE: AA-Floods own elaboration from data provided in the NEWS section by EFAS throughout 2020.

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