Torrential rains in southeastern Spain close schools

MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish authorities preemptively closed schools, universities and nurseries as torrential rains hit the coastal southeast on Tuesday after a long drought, leaving behind flooded basements, submerged cars and blocked roads.

Heavy rain was expected to continue for the rest of Tuesday in the hardest-hit areas – including parts of the Murcia, Valencia and Andalusia regions – amid a flurry of flood warnings issued by the government.

In the city of Cartagena, emergency services struggled to drain flooded streets. Local television images showed how water almost completely covered parked cars and motorcycles.

According to the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), in some towns in the Valencian Community it has rained more in a few days than in the previous six months.

The Valencian town of Ontinyent broke the record for accumulated rainfall on a day in May in the last 100 years, with up to 130 liters per square meter, according to the agency.

The rains could help mitigate the prolonged drought plaguing Spain, which was on track to record its driest spring since records began in 1961, AEMET spokesman Rubén del Campo said.

Still, he said the season was expected to be one of the driest springs on record.

Rainfall across the country between October 2022 and May 21 of this year was 28% below the average for the period, Del Campo said, and twice the standard rainfall will be needed until the end of September to reach levels normal.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Leslie Adler, Editing in Spanish by José Muñoz)

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