Season mixup: spring in Spain to kick off with winter storms and snow

It may officially be the start of spring in a few days, but a drop in temperatures and more snow, will make it feel like winter once again.

Season mixup: spring in Spain to kick off with winter storms and snow
Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Starting from today, March 18th, the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) is predicting an abrupt change in the weather across much of the peninsula, as well as the Balearic Islands.

The agency says that there could be a drop in temperatures, particularly in the northern half of the country, by up to 10°C and that some places could see snow of up to 500 metres.

Rubén del Campo, spokesman for Aemet explained that it is currently not possible to tell which exact areas will be affected the worst but “what seems clear is that there will not be another Filomena,” he said, referring to Storm Filomena, which brought record snowfall to much of Spain in January.

North winds have been arriving in from the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Sea, bringing with them clouds and drizzle down into the Peninsula.

Rain is expected over the next few days on the costs of Catalonia, in the Valencian Community and across the Balearic Islands, while there will even be snowfall in parts of the Pyrenees that lie above 700 metres.

From today, March 18th, a cold air mass will also arrive from the European continent accompanied by stormy weather. Del Campo explains that this is unusual because most weather patterns move in the opposite direction – from the Atlantic towards the European continent. “This means the uncertainty is higher than usual”, he says.

Showers, accompanied by storms are expected across Catalonia, Valencia and Alicante regions in the next few days and by Saturday, March 20th, the weather front will be over the Balearic Islands. This will produce windy conditions across the islands with low night time temperatures.

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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.