MADRID – Spain’s emergency services warned on Monday that the northern, central and eastern regions of the country faced very cold conditions of up to 10 degrees below freezing making road travel treacherous.
They also warned of possible avalanches in the Pyrenees Mountains and recommended avoiding the use of private cars, suggesting the use of public transport such as underground trains, tramlines and commuter railways instead.
“It’s very, very complicated and also the Aemet (the state’s Meteorological Agency) weather forecasters are warning of an even more complex time ahead,” Spain’s Spain’s public works minister said in a radio interview with Cadena Ser network.
Ińigo de la Serna spoke as meteorological conditions rapidly worsened across the Iberian peninsula amid very heavy snow falling even at low altitude, plummeting temperatures, coastal storms and the risk of avalanches in some mountainous areas.
However, Madrid’s international airport, Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas, returned to normal, using its four runways, after two of them were closed in the morning due to the heavy snowfalls, Spain’s national airport authority (AENA), told EFE.
At 15:30, Barajas airport tweeted an updated stating the “cancellation of 42 flights (19 arrivals and 23 departures) and six flights re-routed to other airports from a total of 1,075 flights operations scheduled today,” and according to AENA, further delays were expected.
Madrid had five centimeters (two inches) of powdered snow, a rare sight.
According to a 9:30 am government traffic report, driving was difficult across 372 Spanish roads, with 52 mountain passes closed and a further 135 required chains on tires.
Some of Spain’s main highways connecting Madrid and the northern province of Castilla y Leon had sections closed due to ice and snow.
Additional difficulties were reported in the northern regions of Asturias, Cantabria, and Aragon, the minister said.
De la Serna also said that Aemet had issued a complex “forecast for today and tomorrow” and commended the widespread deployment of 950 snowplows in critical areas explaining the current absence of incidents on most of Spain’s highways was due to a “substantial efforts” by authorities.
The report added that roads were also closed in the provinces of Segovia and Cuenca (Central Spain) with trucks forbidden from circulating in the provinces of Albacete, Cuenca, and Valencia (Central, South Eastern Spain).
Spain’s national railway company, RENFE, told EFE that some railway lines had also been affected by the snowfall, including high-speed train routes.
Valencia’s regional education authority informed that schools across the province would remain closed Monday due to the snow storm.
According to an education authority source contacted by EFE, inland regions were most affected by snowed-in roads leaving school buses and teachers unable to reach schools.
The traffic division of the Guardia Civil police force in the Valencia region also warned that coastal areas were also affected and all public transport and heavy goods vehicles were banned from circulating.
Valencia’s regional government remained on alert after important snowfalls in Castellon province.