It's the 'Worst Storm in 80 Years'

Thousands are trapped in cars, airports, and train stations as blizzard buries Spain in snow
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2021 5:30 AM CST
Thousands Trapped in Rare Blizzard
Frozen laundry hangs on a line outside an apartment window after a heavy snowfall in Madrid on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.   (AP Photo/Paul White)

An unusual and persistent blizzard that Madrid's mayor is calling "the worst storm in 80 years" has blanketed large parts of Spain with snow, freezing traffic and leaving thousands trapped in cars or in train stations and airports that had suspended all services as the snow kept falling on Saturday. The capital and other parts of central Spain activated for the first time a red weather alert, the highest, and called in the military to rescue people from vehicles trapped on everything from small roads to the city's major thoroughfares, per the AP. The national AEMET weather agency warned that some regions would be receiving more than 24 hours of continuous snowfall due to the odd combination of a cold air mass stagnant over the Iberian Peninsula and the arrival of the warmer Storm Filomena from the south. AEMET had said that up to 8 inches of snow could accumulate in large parts of the country, but the build-up reached more than 19 inches, even in urban areas.

Carlos Novillo, head of Madrid's emergency agency, said that more than 1,000 vehicles had become trapped. "The situation remains ... high risk. This is a very complex phenomenon and a critical situation," Novillo posted Saturday morning on social media. "We ask all those who remain trapped to be patient, we will get to you." Airport operator AENA said that the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas International Airport, the main gateway in and out of the country, would remain closed throughout the day after the blizzard bested machines and workers trying to keep the runways clear of snow. All trains into and out of Madrid, as well as railway lines between the south and the northeast of the country, were suspended, railway operator Renfe said. The storm is expected to move northeast throughout Saturday, AEMET said.

(Read more Spain stories.)

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