cloudy.png
Wednesday December 8th, 2021 2:14PM

Blizzard covers Spain in white, brings Madrid to standstill

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MADRID (AP) — A persistent blizzard has blanketed large parts of Spain with 50-year record levels of snow, halting traffic and leaving thousands trapped in cars or in train stations and airports that had suspended all services as the snow kept falling on Saturday.

The bodies of a man and woman were recovered by the Andalucía region emergency service after their car was washed away by a flooded river near the town of Fuengirola. The Interior Ministry said a 54-year-old man was also found dead in Madrid under a big pile of snow.

More than half of Spain's provinces remained on alert Saturday afternoon, five of them on their highest level of warning, for Storm Filomena. In the capital, authorities activated the red alert for the first time since the system was adopted four decades ago and called in the military to rescue people from vehicles trapped on everything from small roads to the city's major thoroughfares.

More than 50 centimeters (20 inches) of snow fell in the capital. By 7 a.m. on Saturday, the AEMET national weather agency had recorded the highest 24-hour snowfall seen since 1971 in Madrid.

Sandra Morena, who became trapped late on Friday as she commuted to her night shift as a security guard in a shopping center, arrived home, on foot, after an army emergency unit helped her out on Saturday morning.

“It usually takes me 15 minutes but this time it has been 12 hours freezing, without food or water, crying with other people because we didn't know how we were going to get out of there,” said Morena, 22.

“Snow can be very beautiful but spending the night trapped in a car because of it is no fun,” she added.

AEMET had warned that some regions would be receiving more than 24 hours of continuous snowfall due to the odd combination of a cold air mass stagnant over the Iberian Peninsula and the arrival of the warmer Storm Filomena from the south.

The storm is expected to move northeast throughout Saturday but it is expected to be followed by a cold snap, the agency said.

Transport Minster José Luis Ábalos warned that “snow is going to turn into ice and we will enter a situation perhaps more dangerous than what we have at the moment.”

He added that the priority was to assist those in need but also to ensure the supply chain for food and other basic goods.

“The storm has exceeded the most pessimistic forecasts we had," Ábalos added.

Carlos Novillo, head of the Madrid emergency agency, said that more than 1,000 vehicles had become trapped, mostly on the city's ring road and the main motorway that leads from the capital to the south, toward the Castilla La Mancha and Andalucia regions.

“The situation remains of high risk. This is a very complex phenomenon and a critical situation," Novillo said Saturday morning in a message posted on social media.

“We ask all those who remain trapped to be patient, we will get to you," he added.

Airport operator AENA said that the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport, the main gateway in and out of the country, would remain closed throughout the day after the blizzard bested machines and workers trying to keep the runways clear of snow.

All trains into and out of Madrid, both commuter routes and long-distance passenger trains, as well as railway lines between the south and the northeast of the country, were suspended, railway operator Renfe said.

The storm had caused serious disruptions or closed altogether over 650 roads by Saturday morning, according to Spain’s transit authorities, which urged people to stay indoors and avoid all non-essential travel.

The wintry weather even halted the country's soccer league, with some of the La Liga top teams unable to travel for games. Saturday’s match between Spanish league leader Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao was postponed after the plane carrying Bilbao’s team on Friday was unable to land in the capital and had to turn around.

The regions of Castilla La Mancha and Madrid, home to 8.6 million people altogether, announced that schools would be closed at least on Monday and Tuesday.

Despite the numerous branches and even whole trees toppled by the weight of the snow, the blizzard also yielded surreal images that entertained many Madrileños, including a few brave skiers and a man on a dog sled that was seen on videos widely circulated on social media.

Lucía Vallés, a coach for a Madrid-based ski club who usually has to travel to faraway mountains with her clients, was thrilled to see the white layers of snow accumulating literally at her doorstep.

“I never imagined this, it has been a gift," the 23-year-old said. “But I've never had so many photographs taken of me," she added as she slid past the late 18th-century building that hosts the Prado Museum.

__

AP writer Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Blizzard covers Spain in white, brings Madrid to standstill
A persistent blizzard has blanketed large parts of Spain with 50-year record levels of snow, halting traffic and leaving thousands trapped in cars or in train stations and airports that suspended all services as the snow kept falling on Saturday
8:41AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Georgia's GOP governor under fire after US Senate losses
The 2020 election cycle has left Georgia's Republican governor bruised even though he wasn't on the ballot
8:25AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Democratic wins could strengthen Biden's legislative push
President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November was tempered by concerns that he'd face Republican opposition in the Senate that could stymie him at every turn
8:25AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
A farewell to @realDonaldTrump, gone after 57,000 tweets
The Twitter account @realDonaldTrump, which grew from the random musings of a reality TV star into the cudgel of a president, has died
2:46AM ( 6 hours ago )
Virus collides with politics as German election year starts
The coronavirus pandemic is colliding with politics as Germany embarks on its vaccination drive and one of the most unpredictable election years in the country’s post-World War II history
2:43AM ( 6 hours ago )
UK to vaccinate out of pandemic by looking to local GPs
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock turned up at a doctor’s office in London this week to highlight the start of coronavirus vaccinations by local general practitioners
2:34AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP National News
No surprise: Trump left many clues he wouldn't go quietly
President Donald Trump has never been one to acknowledge he's lost
1:35AM ( 7 hours ago )
Family: Trump supporter who died followed QAnon conspiracy
Friends and relatives say a Georgia woman killed in Wednesday’s siege of the U.S. Capitol was a recovering drug addict who wanted to become a sobriety counselor
1:00AM ( 8 hours ago )
Trump finally faces reality — amid talk of early ouster
With 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump has finally bent to reality, acknowledging his electoral defeat amid growing talk in Washington of trying to force him from office early
12:41AM ( 8 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Twitter hides Iranian vaccine conspiracy post
Twitter has hidden a post on the account of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory
6:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Japan regional gov'ts request state of emergency
Several regional governments in Japan have asked for a state of emergency declaration like the one issued by the prime minister to the Tokyo area to stem the surging rise in coronavirus cases
3:37AM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: China says COVID shots will be free in country
Chinese health officials say COVID vaccine shots will be free in the country where more than 9 million doses have been given to date
1:54AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business
Georgia's GOP governor under fire after US Senate losses
The 2020 election cycle has left Georgia's Republican governor bruised even though he wasn't on the ballot
8:25AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Democratic wins could strengthen Biden's legislative push
President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November was tempered by concerns that he'd face Republican opposition in the Senate that could stymie him at every turn
8:25AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Asia Today: China asks residents in 2 cities to stay home
Chinese authorities have asked residents in two cities south of Beijing to stay home for seven days as they try to stamp out a COVID-19 outbreak in which more than 300 people have tested positive in the past week
6:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Twitter hides Iranian vaccine conspiracy post
Twitter has hidden a post on the account of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory
6:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Japan regional gov'ts request state of emergency
Several regional governments in Japan have asked for a state of emergency declaration like the one issued by the prime minister to the Tokyo area to stem the surging rise in coronavirus cases
3:37AM ( 5 hours ago )