Spain is on a weather alert for cold temperatures, ice, rain and snow due to Storm Filomena, which is expected to batter much of the Iberian peninsula over the coming days.
The low pressure system is moving northeast from Madeira in the Atlantic, bringing a mass of very cold air over Spain, which will feel the effects between Wednesday and Sunday. On Thursday, the weather agency Aemet is expecting to see one of the most intense days of snowfall in recent years.
In a Wednesday statement, Aemet said that the Canary Islands were already feeling the impact of Filomena through gusting winds, rough seas and intense rainfall. Conditions in the archipelago are expected to get worse on Thursday and Friday, and improve on Saturday.
Central regions could see heavy snowfall between Wednesday and Saturday, at elevations of no more than 200 meters above sea level in the northern half of the country and at around 800 meters in Andalusia. The eastern area of Castilla-La Mancha, the Madrid region, inner areas of the Valencia region, southern Aragón and the eastern mountains of Andalusia could see accumulated snow totals of anywhere between 20 and 50 centimeters.
Parts of northern Spain have already been experiencing wintry conditions for several days, with subzero temperatures and snowfall in cities like Vitoria in the Basque Country.
Coastal areas are expecting heavy rain, especially in southern Andalusia. Conditions are expected to improve by Sunday as the storm moves away from Spain, but there could still be significant rainfall on Monday in Andalusia and the North African exclave city of Ceuta due to a new storm, the Aemet warned.
Authorities are advising citizens to avoid road travel in areas with alerts for severe weather conditions. The Transportation Ministry is rolling out 488 snowplows and the Emergency Military Unit has deployed 38 soldiers and 21 vehicles in Boca de Huérgano (León) to clear the snow in the area.
In Madrid, the Civil Guard on Wednesday morning cut off access to the mountains north of the capital on the M-601 road to prevent crowds from forming. The popular mountain destinations of Cotos and Navacerrada have been packed with day trippers in recent days despite warnings from the traffic authorities.
Lows of -10ºC and -11ºC are expected in mountainous areas of León, Huesca, Teruel, Burgos, Segovia, Ávila, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Zamora, Girona and Lleida.