Madeira Flooding, Mudslides Cause Extensive Damage

Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall

The popular European travel destination of Madeira suffered extensive damage as the result of a weekend storm and both the number of deaths and the insured losses could be significant, according to catastrophe modeling firm RMS.

Over six inches of rain fell this past Saturday (February 22nd) causing flooding and destructive mudslides that have ravaged the Portuguese island.

Approximately been 40 people confirmed dead and extensive damage to property and infrastructure, according to published reports.

An RMS statement explains that Madeira’s geography includes a central mountain chain with mean altitude 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) that was overwhelmed by over six inches of rain that fell over a six hour period.

“[Madeira’s geography] is such that the torrential rain was channeled quickly down to the southern coast via a steep mountain system, which resulted in flash flooding and mudslides,” the RMS statement said.

The capital city of Funchal — where three rivers converge and has channels designed to cope with flash flood waters — overflowed and is believed to be where the most damage occurred.

While RMS said that it will continue to monitor the situation, the statement added that forecasts show weather conditions improving substantially.