Storm Filomena: Spain sees ‘exceptional’ snowfall

2 weeks ago
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Storm Filomena has blanketed parts of Spain in heavy snow, with half of the country on red alert for more on Saturday.

Road, rail and air travel has been disrupted and interior minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the country was facing “the most intense storm in the last 50 years”.

Madrid, one of the worst affected areas, is set to see up to 20cm (eight inches) of snow in the next 24 hours.

Further south the storm caused rivers to burst their banks.

Four deaths have been reported so far as a result of Filomena. Officials said two people had been found frozen to death – one in the town of Zarzalejo, north-west of Madrid, and the other in the eastern city of Calatayud. Two people travelling in a car were swept away by floods near the southern city of Malaga.

As snow fell on Madrid on Friday evening, a number of vehicles became stranded on a motorway near the capital.

The city’s Barajas airport has closed, along with a number of roads, and all trains to and from Madrid have been cancelled.

People walk after leaving their vehicles on a road in Madrid

Reuters

Firefighters were called in to assist drivers who had become stuck. In some areas the military were called in to help clear roads.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez urged people to stay at home and to follow the instructions of emergency services. King Felipe and Queen Letizia took to Twitter to urge “extreme caution against the risks of accumulation of ice and snow”.

Firefighters help stranded drivers in Madrid

Reuters

The country’s AEMET weather agency said the snowfall was “exceptional and most likely historic”.

A number of people were seen making the most of the snowy scenery, walking through Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square.

People walk at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid

Reuters

Large parks in Madrid have since been closed as a precaution, AFP news agency reports.

A person walks with an umbrella during heavy snowfall in Madrid's Rio park

Reuters

One man was pictured skiing along the Gran Via, the capital’s famous shopping street.

A person skis on the Gran Via in central Madrid

EPA

In Cañada Real, the largest shanty town in western Europe, residents were seen creating a bonfire to keep warm.

People stand around a bonfire in Cañada Real, outside of Madrid

Getty Images

The cold weather is set to continue beyond the weekend with temperatures in Madrid predicted to hit -12C on Thursday.

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