IN PICS: Skiers, snowboarders and a dogsled take to the streets of Madrid

As forecasters in Spain warned there was more to come on Saturday and Sunday, people in the capital (and beyond) enjoyed the snowiest weekend in 50 years.

IN PICS: Skiers, snowboarders and a dogsled take to the streets of Madrid
A man skis in Cibeles square during heavy snowfall in Madrid on January Saturday 9th. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
Another 20 centimetres (nearly eight inches) was forecast to fall Saturday in Madrid and central Spain's lower plains, with up to 50 centimetres at higher altitudes.  
The AEMET weather agency described the situation as “exceptional and most likely historic”.
The snow converted Madrid's famous Puerta del Sol square into a winter sports venue, as skiers — and even a man on a sled drawn by five dogs — took to the normally busy thoroughfare.

The Local's editor Fiona Govan filmed people skiing through the square on Friday evening. 

She also filmed snowboarders taking advantage of the slopes around the university district of Malasaña. 

Here's a snowboarder by Cibeles square. 

Here's a snowball fight taking place on Madrid's Gran Via: 

On Saturday morning afternoon, people in Madrid returned to the city centre. Here's someone out for an early morning ski. 
Photo: Benjamin Cremel/AFP
Here are people gathered outside the Royal Palace. 

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
Here's someone skiing on Saturday afternoon in Puerto del Sol. 
Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
Even the city's nuns came out to enjoy the snow. 

We're not quite sure what's happening here. 

People went tobogganing on the slopes in parks around the city centre. 
Apart from Madrid, the regions of Aragon, Valencia, Castilla La Mancha and Catalonia were the worst-hit by the snowstorms.
The historic city of Toledo asked the army for help clearing the streets, as did Albacete in the southeast, public television reported.
Here's someone snowboarding down one of Toledo's hillier streets. 

Forecasters said the heavy snow would continue until Sunday, before Storm Filomena begins moving northeast, although temperatures would remain exceptionally low.
Before the snowfall began Thursday morning, temperatures had already plummeted to an unofficial record low of -34.1 degrees Celsius (-29.38 Fahrenheit) at a ski station in the central Pyrenees on Wednesday.
Filomena has also brought intense rain and high winds to the Canary Islands as well as Spain's southern coast.

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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.