A powerful winter storm named Filomena by the Spanish Meteorological Agency -- AEMET -- is affecting the Iberian Peninsula, bringing record cold temperatures, heavy rain, and historic snow. Capital Madrid was one of several Spanish regions on red alert, a historic occurrence, due to heavy snow. The storm is expected to weaken and move northeast by Sunday, January 10, 2021.
Snow and ice started accumulating on Thursday and Friday, January 7 and 8, seriously affecting travel conditions across portions of the peninsula.
Late Friday afternoon, the Directorate General of Traffic in Spain reported 360 roads have been impacted by the storm, dozens of secondary roads were also closed while other roadways now require chains on tires or prohibit truck traffic.
For capital Madrid, Filomena is the worst storm in 80 years. Residents who ignored official warnings were caught by surprise as they have not seen snow there for at least 10 years.
Winters in Madrid are normally dry and quite mild and the last time it snowed like this in Madrid was back in March 1971. Many streets across the capital are impassable because the plows practically do not exist there.
Madrid Barajas International Airport had all incoming and outgoing flights suspended on Friday, leaving hundreds of passengers waiting for the weather to clear up.
Heavy rainfall, strong winds, and rough seas with huge waves forced the evacuation of 65 people from a ferry that ran aground while trying to approach a dock in the Gran Canaria island.
At least 3 people have been killed, as of 16:00 UTC today. Two people traveling in a car drowned after a river in Malaga burst its banks while a homeless person froze to death in the city of Calatayud.
Madrid’s airport remained closed on January 9 and the Community of Madrid remains on red alert due to the extreme risk of snowfall and the danger it poses.
Many roads throughout the region are still waiting for snowplows, causing heavy traffic to build up as drivers ignored pleas from the community to stay at home, EuroWeekly reports.
Hundreds of stranded lorry drivers who had to pull up overnight as conditions worsened are still stranded on the roads.
Madrid Police officials said a number of trucks have been abandoned, with their drivers taken to hospitals suffering the early onset of hypothermia.
On Wednesday, January 6, Spain registered its coldest temperature on record when the mercury in Catalan Pyrenees station dropped to -34.1 °C (-29.4 °F), breaking the previous record set on February 2, 1956.
The storm is expected to weaken and move northeast by Sunday, January 10, 2021.
Featured image: Madrid's Barajas Airport closed due to heavy snow. Credit: Meteo Tenerife