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WEATHER

Spain set for big freeze: sub-zero temperatures and ‘heaviest snowfall in years’

Much of Spain will experience sub-zero temperatures this week and some of the “heaviest snowfall in recent years”, with even Madrid and Barcelona expected to be turned into winter wonderlands.

Spain set for big freeze: sub-zero temperatures and 'heaviest snowfall in years'
Photos: AFP

This year’s Three Kings’ Day celebrations will be truly out of the ordinary. Firstly, due to the fact that many of the usual Reyes celebrations have been cancelled as part of Covid-19 restrictions, and secondly because much of the country is set to experience some unusually cold weather even for this time of year. 

Temperatures already starting dropping across the mainland on Tuesday but it’s on Wednesday January 6 when the cold snap truly starts.

Spain’s national weather agency AEMET have dubbed it ‘Storm Filomena’, a weeklong weather phenomenon which will see temperatures drop to -10 C in northern and central Spain and heavy snow fall at abnormally low altitudes of as little as 200 metres.

From Wednesday, maximum temperatures in much of Spain’s interior won’t go above 5C.

Snow-covered Bogatell beach in Barcelona on February 2018.

Even Spain’s two biggest cities Madrid and Barcelona, which are not famed for getting much snow, are expected to be turned white on Tuesday night and Thursday respectively.

The Spanish capital could get 10 to 15 cm of snow, something which hasn’t been seen since January 2009 (as seen below).

Other regions that are expected to get up to 20cm of snow include Castilla y León, Cantabria, La Rioja, Navarra, Aragón, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Asturias, Valencia, Galicia and some parts of Andalusia. Some of these have already been turned into winter wonderlands, but by Thursday areas at lower altitudes will also be snow-capped. 

“We’re facing one of the longest and biggest snowfalls in Spain in recent years,” AEMET spokesperson Rubén de Campo said about the weeklong polar snap.

Weather website El Tiempo has also referred to the snowfall that will cover much of Spain as “historic”, adding that the majority of the country will be under snow by Thursday, up to 20cm in large parts of the country's interior.

Filomena will also bring strong winds and heavy rainfall to Andalucia and the Canary Islands, with up to 30 to 40 litres per square metre expected to fall in some parts of both regions in just an hour.

No doubt many of Spain’s regional governments will be thanking the heavens for the bad weather that’s coming as they’re likely to prove just as effective (if not more) than the new Covid-19 restrictions they are in the process of rolling out.
 

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WEATHER

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.

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