As snow began to accumulate on Friday night, transportation became impossible, airports were closed, train services were canceled and more than 1,000 drivers were trapped in their cars on major roads around Madrid, the Associated Press reported.
The storm, officially called Storm Filomena, is the result of a strong low-pressure system filled with moisture in the Atlantic Ocean that collides with abnormally cold air masses originating in Siberia and essentially stays over the Iberian Peninsula.
No part of the country has been immune to the ensuing extreme weather. In addition to the record snowfall in Madrid, up to seven inches of rain fell in the south of the country, where two people died when their car was swept away by a flood. Meanwhile, a record low temperature of minus 32 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded in Vega de Lourdes in Leon in northern Spain.
Up to 20 inches of snow fell in some of Madrid̵
Many residents went on social media to share their joy at the rare winter scene that greeted them on Saturday morning. And since the country is already under strict coronavirus rules, the historic snowfall seems to bring joy to the otherwise grim start of 2021.
“I went out to see and enjoy the snow. There is very little to do these days [because of the pandemic]”Juan Jose, a resident of Madrid, told Reuters.
A viral video on social media even shows dogs pulling a sled on a snowy street in Madrid:
Despite some carefree images shared on social media, the situation in Madrid and much of the country remains quite serious.
As of Saturday night, the government is warning people to stay at home and off the roads, while emergency services are fighting to clear the roads and continue to rescue stranded motorists.
Madrid’s Barajas Airport has remained closed since Friday night, trains to and from the capital are unlikely to be restored until Monday, and schools and universities will remain closed at least until Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
After nearly two consecutive days of rain, Philomena will slowly weaken and shift south early Sunday, bringing additional heavy snow to the Italian Alps, where the same storm is pouring snow on its feet. But residents should not expect the snow that has fallen to melt soon. Arctic air mass will increase over Spain and much of southern Europe next week, bringing temperatures below zero for several days.
Find more scenes from the storm on social media below …