Filomena dumps heaviest snowfall in Madrid since 1971

Spain has been hit by Filomena with so far 30 hours of snowfall and is the most intense snowstorm in the last 50 years. The city of Madrid is one of the worst-affected areas. The storm was announced days ago with international weather forecasts warning of a kind of snow bomb going down on Madrid and Central Spain, but it arrived even worse than forecasted. King Felipe has suspended all meetings for Monday and Tuesday.

The snowstorm has forced the closing of Madrid Barajas Airport and to canceling the entire rail service, except the METRO in the community of Madrid. The closure of Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport will run until 2300 hours this Saturday, January 9, 2021.

Renfe, the Spanish Rail, announced the suspension throughout the day of its entire rail services to and from Madrid due to heavy snowfall and excessive snow accumulation along the routes. The suspension affects the service of the AVE, long- and medium-distance trains, as well as the Cercanías service of the capital.

The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, said that throughout the capital the accumulations of snow is about half a meter at some points and even more than 60 centimeters in some areas. It is a very serious situation in which he has asked the MADRILENOS not to go out on the street. “The scenery is beautiful but dangerous. It is not a game, it is dangerous,” repeated the Mayor in statements to TV Channel Onda Madrid.

Madrid City Council will offer hotel rooms to people trapped on the roads

Mayor Martinez -Almeida announced also today he is closing agreements with hotels in the capital so that people who have been trapped in the snow on the roads of access to Madrid can come to them and rest. 659 main roads all over Spain are totally blocked due to heavy snowfall.

Now they are working to free all trapped drivers. Snowfalls  is expected to end in the mid-afternoon with starting of clearing the main roads of snow. So far, over 1,500 cars have been rescued in Madrid in two days, reports EL MUNDO.

The State Agency for Meteorology (AEMET) in the community of Madrid warns that after Philomena a cold wave will affect the peninsula with temperatures dropping as low as minus 12 CEL or more reports ABC.

The Minister of Transport, José Luis Abalos, has recognized the magnitude of the storm caused by Filomena stating on channel 24h today “we have all been surprised by the magnitude of the storm.”

Regarding the situation at Madrid Barajas Airport which has stopped its entire activity this Saturday,  The Minister of Transport, José Luis Abalos, noted that it is trying to “save some of the runways that make the airport usable” although he expressed “today it will be complicated noted that travel had to be suspended. During the night,  work was done on leaving some runway open in prevention quite a few landings were diverted. Meanwhile passengers who have stayed at Terminal 4 and Terminal 1 are  given accommodation alternatives.”

People got stuck in their cars for over 12-14 hours without any assistance. Many of them had to spend the night in their cars and ran of petrol or left the last drop of petrol in the hopes of moving again. 

Ski Resorts nearby Madrid announced at 9 am on Saturday morning that no more parking space is available – many skiers preferred to go skiing in the streets of Madrid.

This author’s friend living outside Madrid was left without electricity for hours last night, and he could not open the door as he had over1 meter of snow outside and one of the power boxes was outside. 

But there is also a fairy tale that comes with this Snow White story in the form of a girl named Clara who was born in a car in the middle of the storm. The couple had been waiting for an ambulance for hours and decided to leave by car when the woman went into labor. She gave birth to a girl weighing 3.2  before she was moved to the Carlos III hospital nearby albeit without maternity wards. Hospital staff are working 3 shifts in a row as there are no replacements possible right now, and no pharmaceutical deliveries are being made to hospitals.

From 8 am yesterday to today at 12 am, Samur-PC and firefighters of the city of Madrid have made more than 600 interventions and are currently managing another 130. El Corte Inglés – Spains biggest department – will not open this Saturday in Madrid and is instead collaborating in the distribution of food to trapped people. Schools and universities in Madrid will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Army Aid in the Capital

“I have just called Margarita Robles, the Minister of Defense, and I have asked her for the help of the Army precisely in this task,” said Almeida, Mayor of Madrid, who has asked the Army to work with the City Council to start as soon as possible from the moment it stops snowing to clear the roads of the city.

The Minister has said she will do her best to put troops and resources forward, according to Almeida who has warned that with the expected low temperatures for the next few days with minimums of 12 degrees below zero, the situation could worsen and that in any case clearing roads and streets “will be a process that will take several days.”

The storm has caused rivers to burst their banks resulting in four deaths that have been reported so far as a result of Filomena. Officials said two people had been found frozen to death – one in the town of Zarzalejo, northwest of Madrid, and the other in the eastern city of Calatayud. Two people traveling in a car were swept away by floods near the southern city of Malaga.

Civil Guard and Red Cross serve 400 trucks trapped in Valencia

More than 100 Civil Guard patrols with 230 agents have been operational for the past 24 hours – 33 last night – to serve, together with the Red Cross, drivers trapped by the storm and the citizens of the affected municipalities.

The Ministry of Culture closed state theatres and museums in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, and Extremadura. The Ministry of Culture and Sport has announced the cancellation of the functions planned for the weekend on January 9 and 10 in the scenic spaces of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM) in Madrid, as well as the closure of state museums in Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, in the face of the situation caused by the snowstorm in order to guarantee the safety of its staff. The measure also affects the National Library of Spain and the Spanish Film Library, Europa Press reports.

Over 27,000 households in Albacete, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo are without electricity. More than one hundred roads have been affected by snow and ice in Castile and León, mostly belonging to the secondary network in Castilla y León.

Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Madrid, and Valencia are at extreme risk (red warning) for snowfall and Cantabria, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Navarra, Basque Country, and La Rioja at significant risk (yellow) for the same reason. There are also warnings of heavy rainfalls at the coast and low temperatures throughout Spain.

Weather forecasts indicate that Filomena will move northeast on Sunday, which will mean a decrease in snowfall although temperatures will remain exceptionally low. However, many people will be left out in the cold as Spanish electricity bills doubled since yesterday.

Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Madrid, and Valencia are at extreme risk (red warning) for snowfall and Cantabria, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Navarra, Basque Country, and La Rioja at significant risk (yellow) for the same reason. There are also warnings of precipitation, wind, coastal phenomena, and low temperatures throughout Spain.

Some 2,000 trucks in Catalonia and 1,400 in Aragon were immobilized

Some 2,000 trucks remain immobilized due to restrictions by the snowstorm in Catalan road service areas, especially in La Jonquera (Girona) where there are a thousand that are already starting to leave for France to evade the snow chaos.

More than 200 penalties have been imposed on truckers who have missed the ban on driving for vehicles of more than 7.5 tons with the law is in force until 0600 on Monday if the weather forecast does not improve.

In Sant Bartomeu del Grau (Barcelona) and Lleida, truck drivers have been rescued in artic temperatures of minus 25 Cel. On the roads of Aragon, almost 1,400 trucks are blocked by snow.

In any case, sources of the regional government consulted by Europa Press ensured that the priority is to ensure the health and hospital delivery to all Castilians and in maintaining the planned vaccination plan against the coronavirus.

The snow and ice recorded in recent hours have affected more than 100 roads, most belonging to the secondary network, in Castilla y León, according to the data consulted by Efe this Saturday on the website of the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT). The provinces of Avila, Soria. and Burgos take up as many roads as possible, although the difficulties have also focused on roads in Segovia, Salamanca, Valladolid, and Soria. A total of 32 roads affected at this time are located in the province of Avila, 23 in Burgos, 18 in Soria, ten in Segovia, Valladolid and León, eight in Salamanca, and two in Palencia.