10 killed in Brazil floods as governor warns of 'biggest climate disaster' to come

Civil Defense Department officials warned the Blang Dam is at risk of breaking on the Caí River. Residents in the flood zone are being told to evacuate.

ENCANTADO, Brazil – Torrential rains of nearly a half-foot in 24 hours across southern Brazil led to flooding that has killed at least 10 people.

Part of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul was hit by resistant rains beginning Monday, and Brazil's National Institute of Meteorology (Inmet) is forecasting more rain through Thursday.

Nearly 6 inches of rain fell between Monday and Tuesday in hard-hit areas, according to Inmet. On Wednesday, the city of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul received 8 inches. 

An additional 7 inches is possible through Thursday as a broad area of low-pressure advances toward the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná.

According to the FOX Forecast Center, the region could see between 6 and 12 inches over the next five days.

On Thursday, Rio Grande do Sul Civil Defense Department officials warned the Blang Dam is at risk of breaking on the Caí River. Officials said residents in the flood zone of the Blang Dam should move to higher ground and find a safe place to shelter, including the cities of São Francisco de Paula, Canela, Gramado, N. Petrópolis, Vale Real and Feliz.

Multiple rivers are at flood stage, and residents are being told to move away from waterways. Flooding is forecast to continue through the end of the week.

This system will bring potentially severe thunderstorms, including strong winds up to 50 mph and rain exceeding 8 inches between Rio Grande do Sul and south of Santa Catarina. 

The imagery below from NOAA's GOES East satellite Advanced Baseline Imager and lightning mapper instruments shows the onslaught of rain and storms over southern Brazil early Thursday.

Rio Grande do Sul Gov. Eduardo Leite said the number of deaths is expected to rise and encouraged residents to leave and seek safer places because first responders have had difficulty reaching people needing rescue. 

Leite suspended classes across the state Thursday and declared a state of calamity due to the flooding. 

"The current event will be the biggest climate disaster our state has ever faced. Unfortunately, it will be bigger than last year," Leite said on X. "We are living in a very critical moment in the state. I deeply regret the 10 deaths recorded so far."

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in the city of Santa Maria on Thursday to see the flooding response. 

In November, a week of severe thunderstorms and torrential rain caused a similar flooding event in southern Brazil, killing eight people and displacing thousands of people. 

Some information in this story was obtained using Google Translate.