Spain races to clear snow before cold snap freezes roads

After the worst snowstorm in decades, Spanish officials were racing on Sunday to clear the roads of snow before a cold snap transforms them into icy death traps.

Spain races to clear snow before cold snap freezes roads
A snowplough removes snow after a heavy snowfall in Madrid on January 10, 2021. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
Storm Filomena killed three people during its passage through Spain and kept emergency services workers and army snow ploughs busy through Saturday freeing 2,500 drivers trapped in their vehicles.
The storm also brought heavy rains before moving through eastern Spain into southern France.
Spain's weather forecasters AEMET predicted heavy frost overnight Sunday to Monday in large parts of Spain. In mountainous areas temperatures would drop below -10C, conditions that could last until Thursday, the agency added.

“Our aim is to make the most of every minute before Monday when the drop in temperature happens,” to clear the roads, Madrid's mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida said late on Saturday.
“From then, until the end of the week, it's going to be very difficult to get about,” he told Sexta television.
The capital Madrid and the surrounding region was one of the areas worst hit by the snow, with levels of snowfall not seen since 1971.
The army also had to clear the snow from Madrid airport, one of the regions worst hit by the snowstorm, which had forced the cancellation of flights from late Friday. They are not due to be reopened until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.
They also had to clear access to the city's hospitals, still struggling to cope with the country's coronavirus crisis.
Despite, the inconveniences, many in Madrid took advantage of the rare snowy conditions, building elaborate snowmen around the city, and having epic snowball fights. 

A snowman outside the Cibeles Palace in central Madrid. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
The storm, through Friday and Saturday, left much of the country under dozens of centimetres of snow, an amount rarely experienced in Spain, blocking many major roads.
More than 700 major routes were still impassible Sunday morning said the government, with rail travel to and from Madrid also cancelled, at least until Sunday afternoon.
The authorities in the capital have closed the city's schools, colleges and universities at least until Wednesday.
As well as the Madrid region, the exceptional conditions hit another four regions — Aragon, Valencia, Castilla La Mancha and Catalonia — hard Saturday.

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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.