Extreme weather: Spain feels effects of “Beast from the East”

Polar front brings snow, rain and plummeting temperatures after pummeling central and western Europe

A Catalan police patrol car in Girona.
A Catalan police patrol car in Girona.Europa Press

An extremely cold weather front nicknamed “The Beast From The East” has reached Spain “in a domesticated form.”

“Yes, this mass of Siberian air is the same one affecting the north, but it has arrived here in a weakened form and only its edge has touched us,” said Rubén del Campo, a spokesman for the Spanish weather service Aemet. “The ‘Beast From The East’ is here, but in a domesticated way.”

A downed tree in the Catalan city of Vic.
A downed tree in the Catalan city of Vic.Albert Alemany (EL PAÍS)

The polar vortex is affecting Spain, where all autonomous communities are on alert for adverse weather conditions, after pummeling central and western Europe. On Monday, Rome saw snow for the first time in six years.

After the Canary Islands experienced gusting winds and heavy rains earlier in the week, the southwest of the peninsula woke up to significant rainfall on Monday while parts of Catalonia were blanketed in snow.

Trucks of over 7.5 tons are barred from the roads in Catalonia due to the weather alert.

Yellow and orange alerts have been issued nationwide for rain, wind, rough seas, snow and low temperatures that will extend at least until Sunday.

Temperatures will drop significantly along a strip covering northern Extremadura, southern Castilla y León, the Madrid region and northern Castilla-La Mancha. In Madrid, thermometers will drop from 16ºC on Monday to no more than six or seven degrees. The lowest recorded temperature so far has been -17ºC at 2.10am in Cap de Vaquèira, in Lleida province.

Traffic authorities are urging people to avoid driving unless completely necessary, and to remember to take safety measures if doing so.

Snowfall is expected at elevations of no more than 300 to 400 meters above sea level in parts of eastern and northwestern Spain, said the national weather service AEMET.

Traffic authorities are advising drivers not to use their vehicles in the Madrid metropolitan area due to weather-related complications. Catalonia has also implemented traffic restrictions for heavy vehicles due to slippery road conditions.

At 2.30pm on Tuesday, traffic authorities said that there were 44 roads and mountain passes affected by the snow. Of these, seven have been completely closed off to traffic and three require snow chains. Catalan authorities also warned that many schools would be closed on Wednesday.

In early January, thousands of motorists were stranded for hours on Spanish roads following heavy snowfall. Another storm in early February caused fresh chaos on several motorways.

English version by Susana Urra.

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