On Saturday, large parts of central Spain suffered one of its deadliest snowstorms in decades and four people were left dead and thousands trapped in their cars, train stations, and airports. The rare blizzard suspended all services in the region, including cutting off COVID-19 vaccines in some areas.
In Madrid, emergency services were able to rescue about 1,500 people that were trapped in their cars. The police authorities were also able to remove large snowballs that prevented emergency services from reaching others that were trapped.
The authorities have warned citizens to stay indoors this period to avoid an increase in COVID-19 infections or people suffering injuries occasioned by the snowstorm.
Meteorologists in the country warned that severe weather conditions should be expected in the coming days. The weather experts said temperatures were expected to decline to a dangerous level of about 14 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), with trees and other public utilities destroyed in the process.
There were building covered with snow all over the city, which the police subsequently moved to break off to prevent the risk of accidents. However, residents come outside the streets in their numbers to witness the unusual spectacle of a city that has been covered in white.
The persistent blizzard caused shoppers and workers alike numbering about a hundred to spend two nights at a shopping center in Majadahonda, a town nearby Madrid, after the blizzard trapped all of them in the building. A resident told a local television station that some people had no choice but to sleep on cardboards, CBS News reports.
Travel schedules at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport had to be suspended up until Sunday evening. On Saturday, Spain’s Minister of Transport, Jose Luis Abalos, announced that the government would send in convoys bearing vaccines and food supplies to areas that in dire need of them. About 20,000 km of road networks across central Spain had been affected by the blizzard.
Four casualties were reported on Saturday. A man and a woman, both occupants of the same car, drowned after a river overflowed in a town near Malaga. On the other hand, two homeless people froze to death in Madrid and Caralayud. The State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) noted that on Saturday, Madrid witnessed a snowstorm that measured up to 20-30 cm (7-8 inches) – the largest since 1971.
As of Saturday evening, more than half of the country’s provinces were under severe weather alerts for Storm Filomena, with about seven of them bearing very high levels of warning. In Madrid, there was a red alert for the first time since the inception of the system decades ago. The military was also deployed to help motorists trapped on the highway.