Implemented by the European Commission as part of the Copernicus Programme

GloFAS Bulletin Article, March 2023

Floods and landslides in São Paulo State, Brazil, February 2023


At least 65 people lost their lives after torrential rain caused floods and landslides in areas of the north coast of the state of São Paulo, Brazil, on 19 February 2023.


São Paulo Governor Tarcísio de Freitas declared a state of emergency for the municipalities of Bertioga, Caraguatatuba, Guarujá, Ilhabela, São Sebastião and Ubatuba on 19 February.


More than 600 mm of rain fell in several locations in just 24 hours. The governor said the catastrophe was one of the worst incidents in the history of São Paulo, and compared the situation to the floods in Guarujá in 2020 (link: ), and in Itaóca in 2014 (link: ). He declared a period of official mourning throughout the state.


Satellite images from Copernicus Sentinel-2 showed the slopes surrounding the beach resort of Juqueí (also known as Juquehy) littered with red scars left by landslides.
(Credit: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery)


Hundreds of houses and other buildings were damaged or destroyed, in particular in São Sebastião municipality, the worst affected area.  At one point over 4,000 people were displaced from their homes. During a visit to affected areas, President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stressed the need to rebuild housing on safer ground.


Dozens of roads were washed out or blocked by landslides, causing severe transport difficulties and leaving some area isolated.


More than 1,000 people from the security and rescue forces of the Government of the State of São Paulo, the Armed Forces, the Federal Police, the municipal government of São Sebastião and volunteers were deployed to affected areas for rescue and relief efforts.


Record Rainfall

According to the National Center for Disaster Monitoring Prediction (Cemaden), in 24 hours to 19 February, 682 mm of rain fell in Bertioga, 626 mm in São Sebastião, 337 mm in Ilhabela, 335 mm in Ubatuba and 234 mm in Caraguatatuba.


In a statement of 20 February, Governor Tarcísio de Freitas confirmed that the accumulation of rain was the highest ever recorded in Brazil. The previous high was set in 2022 when Petrópolis in Rio de Janeiro state recorded 530 mm of rain in 24 hours. (link: )


Rainy Season in São Paulo

The region experienced heavy rain from December 2022. On 13 February 2023, state Civil Protection reported 8,547 people had been displaced and 25 people lost their lives in around 250 rain-related incidents  in the state since 01 December 2022.



Images 1 to 3: Floods and landslides in São Paulo State, Brazil, February 2023. Photo: Defesa Civil, Sao Paulo

By Karen O'Regan     March 9, 2023, 4:22 p.m.