Heavy snowfall hits Spain

  • Temperatures fell to a low of minus 18 Celsius in northern Spain on Tuesday as cold air was advected west from eastern Europe.

    Low pressure anchored to the south of France drives strong north-easterly winds into northern Spain bringing bands of snow to the region.

    Seven week old Labrador puppy Tess experiences snow for the first time after light snow fall in Cambridge as icy weather continues to grip the UK earlier this week. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

  • Heavy snowfall hits Spain
    07.02.2015 13:39

    More than 200 people were rescued from roads in northern Spain earlier this week as a snow-storm lashed the region. Dozens of cars became stuck on the road between Cantabria and Palencia as heavy snow made roads impassable.



    Among those rescued were almost 100 British tourists who had just disembarked from a ferry in Santander which had departed from Portsmouth the day previous. Many of the tourists were attempting to take a break from the cold British winter but instead found themselves trapped in large drifts of snow.

    The heavy snowfall comes as a cold spell grips Spain. An area of high pressure situated near the British Isles is driving cold air westwards towards southern Europe from the east. This combined with a deep area of low pressure anchored to the south of France resulted in strong northerly winds lashing northern Spain. The sharp contrast between the warm sea temperatures in the Bay of Biscay and very cold air-mass aloft created intense bands of snow which swept onshore. The snow accumulated rapidly and combined with the strong winds caused huge snow drifts to form. As much as 40cm of snow was recorded in places but drifts far exceeded this.

    The cold spell is going to continue over the next couple of days with some very low temperatures expected. However current indications suggest that it will become somewhat milder as the week progresses. High pressure is expected to move east over central Europe allowing a more traditional southerly flow to develop with temperatures returning to more average values.

    The cold snap has brought some extremely low temperatures to parts of Spain, particularly in parts of the mountainous north. Temperatures fell to a low of minus 18 Celsius on the morning of February 6th at Naut Aran, Cap de Vaquèira in the Pyrenees. However, extreme cold is not uncommon in parts of northern Spain during wintertime. On February 2nd 1956 a temperature of -32 Celsius was recorded at Lake Estangento in Lleida. This is a stark contrast to the extremely high temperatures experienced during summertime with a record temperature of 47.2 Celsius recorded at Murcia on July 4th 1994.

    The cold spell has also hit other parts of Europe with heavy snow falling across northern and central Italy on Thursday leading to travel disruption. The cold spell is excellent news for skiers with 60cm of fresh snow falling in the mountainous Cuneo region adjacent to the French border. Meanwhile heavy sleet and winds gusting over 110 km/hr lashed Trieste.

    In the UK the weather is set to turn mostly settled after the recent wintry conditions ease. High pressure is expected to dominate with a mixture of cloud and sunny breaks. Temperatures are expected to return to near or slightly above normal values with just the chance of a slight frost in sheltered areas by night.

    By: Matthew Martin