The storm created chaos across a region not used to seeing snow, let alone snow that measured over a foot deep. This amount of snow had not fallen in Madrid in a decade. As the snow started to pile up, transportation became impossible, with airports shut down, train services cancelled and over 1,000 motorists trapped in their cars on major roadways around Madrid, according to the Associated Press.
The storm, officially named Storm Filomena, is the result of a strong low-pressure system full of Atlantic Ocean moisture clashing with an anomalously cold air mass with origins in Siberia.
Heavy rain in southern Spain
Additionally, up to seven inches of rain fell in the southern part of the country, where two people died when their car was swept away by flash flooding. Meanwhile, a record low temperature of -35 degrees Celsius was recorded in Leon in northern Spain. About 20 inches of snow fell in some of the suburbs of Madrid, with widespread snowfall measuring around 8 to 12 inches in depth, easily making Filomena the biggest snowstorm to hit the region since 1971.
Red alert in Madrid for snow
Madrid was placed on red alert for snow, the most severe level since a new storm advisory system was implemented in 2007. The country's AEMET weather agency called the storm ‘exceptional and most likely historic’, according to Reuters. As of Saturday evening, the government was warning people to stay at home and off the roads as emergency services scramble to clear roads and continue to rescue stranded motorists.
Madrid's Barajas Airport has remained closed since Friday night, train service to and from the capital is unlikely to be restored very soon, and schools and universities will remain closed through at least Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.