Arctic blast set to sweep across Iberian Peninsula

Mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands are braced for plummeting temperatures as a polar wind blows south across Europe.

Arctic blast set to sweep across Iberian Peninsula
Snow is expected to fall in mountainous regions of northern Spain. Archive photo: AFP

AEMET, Spain’s state meteorological agency, has warned of a sharp drop in the mercury across Spain bringing frost and snow to the north of the country and rain to the south.

The cold snap is expected to arrive on Wednesday and continue into the weekend with nine provinces issued yellow alerts for cold weather.

The high regions of Girona, Lleida, Huesca, Teruel, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Burgos, Soria, and La Rioja are on alert for freezing temperaturas while heavy rain warnings were put in place for Cádiz and Malaga.

Madrid, meanwhile, is not expected to receive much-needed rain beyond light scattered showers, but will see temperatures drop below zero by the weekend.

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Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.