Spain still reeling under under snowstorm impact
Spain is still digging itself out after the biggest snowstorm to hit the Mediterranean country in 50 years slammed the capital, Madrid, and surrounding regions over the weekend, disrupting transit and efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines, and causing at least four deaths.
The bulk of the snow from Storm Filomena began falling Friday evening and left 20 inches in the capital and nearby provinces by the end of Saturday.
Officials fear the cold spell will freeze the piles of snow in the city and create even more perilous conditions.
With the temperature now dipping below 20 degrees overnight, the Spanish government has stepped up the cleanup — shipping some 3,500 tons of road salt to the capital.
Spanish officials have also deployed police to escort convoys to ensure that 300,000 coronavirus vaccines are delivered to the city despite the winter storm.
As many as 700 major roads in and around Madrid remained blocked, the BBC said.
Rail service in some areas was suspended, and the New York Times reported that 12,500 miles of roads were closed or disrupted. Firefighters, members of the military, and emergency crews worked to clear runways and roads from Friday into Saturday, freeing more than 1,500 people trapped in their cars in freezing temperatures.
Road blockades persist
Although hundreds of roads had been cleared by Sunday and outgoing flights had resumed at the Madrid-Barajas airport, the Associated Press reported that roads in parts of the country were still largely blocked, and officials warned the country was not yet in the clear.
“A week of extreme cold is coming and that will transform all the snow on the ground to ice, thereby multiplying the risk,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska told reporters on Sunday. “The storm is bringing with it a cold wave that could push temperatures down to record levels,” he added.
Government authorities on Sunday cautioned people to stay off the roads as much as possible, the AP reported, saying that although everyone trapped in their vehicles had been rescued, many abandoned vehicles remained on roadways.
Many Spaniards took advantage of the snow to enjoy some winter fun. On social media, scenes of Spaniards in the streets, happily engaging in mass snowball fights made the rounds.