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4 dead as powerful storm triggers strong winds, heavy snowfall, and record waves in Spain


At least four people died as powerful Storm Gloria wreaked havoc across parts of Spain, producing strong winds, heavy snowfall, and record-breaking waves on Sunday and Monday, January 19 and 20, 2020.

The Spanish meteorological agency placed 33 of its 55 provinces across the country on high alert, with Valencia on the Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Islands bearing the brunt of the severe storm. Provinces on red alert include Teruel Albacete, Murcia, Barcelona, Tarragon, Girona, Castellon, and Alicante.

Waves of 8.44 m (27.7 feet) roared onto the shore in Valencia, according to port authorities, adding that this was a record height. Furthermore, witnesses said waves soared higher throughout the day. According to the national weather agency Aemet, winds also reached up to 115 km/h (71 mph).

In Vilena, 35 000 residents were cut off after a seven-hour snowfall left snowdrifts up to 7.6 cm (3 inches), blocking roads into and out of the town. Moreover, the 13th century Atalaya castle was seen covered with snow, adjacent to houses and businesses in the area. Snowdrifts were also seen in Biar, Alicante, and across the area around the city.

Ploughs were also seen clearing roads in Villafranca– 64 km (40 miles) from the Valencian coast, as layers of snow blocked major highways.

Meanwhile, Ryanair, which has some flights affected, said a small number of its flights will be diverted to either Murcia or Valencia airports. "All impacted customers were notified by email and SMS message," they said.

"Ryanair apologized for these schedule changes, which are completely outside of the airline's control."

The Algar River was also reported bursting its banks and gusting over a tourist platform at the Algar waterfall in a torrent of raging water.

The death toll due to the powerful storm has reached four as an elderly man was found dead in Moixent on Monday, showing signs of hypothermia, although the particular cause is yet to be confirmed by the Department of Health.

The first victim was hit by a vehicle in Asturias, the second was a homeless man who succumbed to hypothermia in Gandia, and the third was mortally injured by flying debris in Avila.

Meanwhile, Catalonia's regional government issued a ban on all outdoor activities in the Girona, Barcelona and central Catalonia regions, said the spokesman for the interior department. Many schools remained closed in parts of the country as of Tuesday, January 21.

Forecasters said the storm is expected to ease by Wednesday, January 22.

Featured image credit: Ajuntament de Xabia


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