Spain declares ‘disaster zones’ in aftermath of Storm Filomena

Spain’s government on Tuesday classified Madrid and other regions struck by Storm Filomena as disaster zones.

Spain declares 'disaster zones' in aftermath of Storm Filomena
Photos: AFP

The measure, that was approved in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, will trigger emergency subsidies and extra support measures to repair damage from record snowfall and low temperatures in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Asturias, Andalusia, Aragón, La Rioja and Navarre.

The details of the aid package have not yet been decided, but the needs of each region will be assessed and help distributed by relevant ministries.

The storm brought the heaviest snowfall in half a century, blocking roads and train lines, felling trees and causing massive snowdrifts which transformed into ice blocks when a big freeze hit.

Madrid City Hall estimates the damage caused runs up to at least €1.4 billion ($1.70 billion) in the Spanish capital alone.

On Tuesday, ten days after the storm, the city had yet to clear snow and ice from an estimated 43 percent of roads.

It has closed its parks including Retiro and Casa de Campo to clear the damaged trees and warned they may not reopen for two months.

Across the capital maintenance teams have been working to clear drains, tunnels and sewers of debris caused by Storm Filomena to reduce flooding risk ahead of torrential rain forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.


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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.