Ten Spanish regions on alert for strong winds, large waves or risk of avalanches

Spain’s DGT traffic authority is encouraging motorists who have traveled to the north to make their return journeys today due to the weather front, which is associated with Storm Barra

Heavy snowfall has hindered pilgrims on the Way of Saint James in Navarre.
Heavy snowfall has hindered pilgrims on the Way of Saint James in Navarre.Jesús Diges (EFE)

A total of 20 provinces in 10 of Spain’s 17 regions were on yellow or orange weather alerts on Tuesday, due to strong winds, waves of over six meters, persistent rainfall, snowmelt or the risk of avalanches. Nine of these regions are in the north of the peninsula, and the 10th is Valencia in the east of the country.

The conditions were due to the arrival of a weather front associated with Storm Barra, which was due to make landfall on parts of the western and southern coasts of Ireland. Tomorrow, Wednesday, however, is forecast to be the worst of the ongoing long weekend – December 6 and 8 are national holidays in Spain, meaning that many people have traveled away from home for a brief vacation. The poor conditions expected tomorrow could make the return journeys complicated for those who will be traveling from the north.

As such, the DGT traffic authority is encouraging motorists to make their return journeys today, given the risk of disruption to major freeways that could be caused by snowfall.

On Tuesday, a total of 47 routes and mountain roads were affected by the bad weather. Of these, 13 were completely blocked while the use of snow chains or winter tires was obligatory in a further 16. According to the DGT, the situation was most serious in Aragón, Castilla y León and Catalonia.

Meanwhile, Aragón, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Galicia, La Rioja and Valencia were the regions on alert for heavy winds, as well as rain and large waves on the Galician coast, according to the Aemet state meteorological agency. Today rainfall was not forecast in the remainder of the south or Mediterranean, where clear skies and high clouds were expected. In the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago located off the northwestern coast of Africa, cloudy conditions were also forecast, with a chance of rainfall in the western islands.

“If you have to return from the northern half of the country this December long weekend, move your trip forward to today. There are warnings for snow from Wednesday 8 which could affect even high capacity roads.”

A Coruña, Asturias and Lugo are on orange alert – meaning risks for outdoor activities – from 9pm today due to heavy swells, with waves four to six meters high possible. What’s more, there is a yellow alert for smaller waves in Cantabria, Girona, Guipúzcoa, Pontevedra and Vizcaya.

Winds of up to 80 to 90 kilometers per hour are expected in A Coruña, Asturias, Burgos, Cantabria, Castellón, La Rioja, Soria, León, Palencia, Lugo, Teruel, Valencia and Zamora, while there is a risk of avalanches in Aragón, Catalonia and Navarre.

Snowfall is forecast between 1,000 and 1,600 meters of altitude in the western Pyrenees, and from 1,400 to 2,000 meters in the rest of the mountain range. In the western Cantabrian Mountains and Galicia, this altitude will fall to between 700 and 1,200 meters.

Temperatures are due to rise slightly today, apart from the lows in the north west, which will fall. Frost is also expected in the mountain ranges in the north of the peninsular and the southeast, with the lowest temperatures in the Pyrenees.

Snow is forecast for Wednesday in the mountainous areas of Cantabria, the Pyrenees, the Iberian Mountain Range and the Central Mountain Range. This prediction prompted the DGT to call on motorists to make their return journeys from these areas as soon as possible.

Showers are also expected tomorrow in much of the peninsula, with occasional storms in Galicia, Cantabria and the western Pyrenees. The DGT also stated that residents of northern areas should avoid making non-essential journeys.

The conditions are due to improve in much of the peninsula from Friday, although that day will see rain showers in the morning and snowfall in the Pyrenees. Temperatures are due to rise from Friday too, above all in the east, southeast and inland, meaning that light frost will only be seen in mountainous areas.

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