Snow covers half of Spain, left 4 people dead with thousands trapped.
A constant blizzard has blanketed parts of Spain with an unusual amount of snow today, leaving at least four people dead and thousands trapped in cars or at train stations and airports.
The national weather agency reported that snowfall in Madrid reached a level never experienced in half a century. More than 50 centimetres of snow fall was measured in the Spanish capital, according to the weather agency AEMET.
After their car was swept away by a flooded river near the town of Fuengirola, the bodies of a man and woman were retrieved by the Andalucía region Emergency Service. A 54-year-old man was found dead under a huge pile of snow in Madrid according to the Interior Ministry. In the northern city of Zaragoza, a homeless man died of hypothermia, reported the local police department,
More than half of Spain's provinces are under severe weather alerts for Storm Filomena today, seven of them being at the highest level of warning.
Authorities in Madrid have declared a red alert for the first time since the system was introduced four decades ago and had to call in the military to rescue people from vehicles trapped small roads to the city's major roadways.
Sandra Morena, who was trapped as she worked her night shift as a security guard in a shopping centre, arrived home on foot after an army emergency unit helped her get out on Saturday morning.
"It usually takes me 15 minutes, but this time it has been 12 hours freezing, without food or water, crying with other people because we didn't know how we were going to get out of there," said Morena, aged 22.
"Snow can be very beautiful but spending the night trapped in a car because of it is no fun," she added.
As of now, Spanish security services had rescued more than 1500 people who were trapped in vehicles, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska reported.
AEMET has warned that some regions will be receiving more than 24 hours of continuous snowfall due to the odd combination of a stagnant mass of cold air over the Iberian Peninsula and the arrival of the warmer Storm Filomena from the south.
The storm is expected to be followed by a severe drop in temperatures in the coming days, cited the national weather agency.
Transport Minster José Luis Ábalos warned saying "snow is going to turn into ice and we will enter a situation perhaps more dangerous than what we have at the moment".
He also stated that the priority is to assist those in need but also to make sure to keep the supply chain for food and other basic goods going.
"The storm has exceeded the most pessimistic forecasts we had," he added.
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas International Airport, the main gateway in and out of Spain, will stay closed at least until tomorrow, Ábalos said.
The storm had caused serious disruptions and closed over 650 roads, Spain's transit authorities urged people to stay indoors and avoid all non-essential travel given the current weather condition.
More than 100 roads were still impassable almost 24 hours after the snowfall along with the storm hit the central strip of the Mediterranean nation.
The Spanish government is planning to take extra measures to ensure that the country's weekly supply of the BioNTech-Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday can be distributed to regional health authorities via police-escorted convoys, said the internal minister.
The weather also disrupted the country's soccer league, with some teams unable to travel for games. Today's game between Spanish league leader Atlético Madrid and Athletic Bilbao had to be cancelled after the plane carrying Bilbao's team was unable to land in the capital and had to turn around yesterday.