Winter woes

Schools shut as Madrid clears record snow ahead of cold spell

Schools shut as Madrid clears record snow ahead of cold spell

People walk during a heavy snowfall in Madrid. (REUTERS/Sergio Perez)

Madrid, January 11

Schools in Madrid were closed on Monday while most trains and flights resumed as the Spanish capital tried to return to some form of normalcy after a huge snow storm on the weekend.

While many in Madrid enjoyed the rare snow fall, skiing right at the heart of the city and holding mass snowball fights, a cold spell was set to turn the snow into slippery ice this week, and authorities rushed to clear more streets.

The snowstorm complicated Spain's efforts to increase the pace of its coronavirus vaccination programme amid rising infections. A new batch of vaccines meant to land in Madrid diverted on Monday to Vitoria, in northern Spain.

Renfe train operator said all fast train lines were operating except for Madrid-Barcelona connections, which are likely to resume in early afternoon. Most Madrid suburban lines were working on Monday, but with fewer trains than usual.

Two runways at one terminal of Madrid's Barajas main international airport re-opened and the airport operator said that of around 400 flights scheduled to fly in and out on Monday, 117 had been cancelled.

With most streets still covered in snow, many workers stayed home. A reporter saw a number of empty shelves at several central Madrid supermarkets. The city's main wholesale food market, Mercamadrid, was closed because of the snow and set to start operating again on Tuesday.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the situation on the roads was improving but was still "extraordinary" and many remained closed.

Ministers declined to say if the capital city would be declared a disaster zone, saying they first needed to evaluate the damages.

The cold wave, with temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius in central Spain, will last until Thursday, the Aemet meteorological agency said. Reuters

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