San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday)

Bliz­zard buries na­tion as troops de­ploy to as­sist

- By Aritz Parra Aritz Parra is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer. Weather · Disasters · Madrid · Spain · Zaragoza · Iberian Peninsula · Adolfo Suárez · Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport · Castile-La Mancha · Andalusia · Andalucía · Fuengirola · ENAIRE · RENFE

MADRID — A bliz­zard blan­keted large parts of Spain with 50year record lev­els of snow, killing at least four peo­ple and leav­ing thou­sands trapped in cars or in train sta­tions and air­ports Satur­day that had sus­pended ser­vices as the snow kept fall­ing.

The bod­ies of a man and woman were re­cov­ered by the An­dalu­cia re­gion emer­gency ser­vice af­ter their car was washed away by a flooded river near the town of Fuen­girola. The In­te­rior Min­istry said a 54yearold man was also found dead in Madrid un­der a big pile of snow. A home­less man died of hy­pother­mia in the north­ern city of Zaragoza, the lo­cal po­lice said.

More than half of Spain’s prov­inces re­mained on alert Satur­day, five of them on their high­est level of warn­ing, for Storm Filom­ena. In the cap­i­tal, au­thor­i­ties ac­ti­vated the red alert for the first time since the sys­tem was adopted four decades ago and called in the mil­i­tary to res­cue peo­ple from ve­hi­cles trapped on ev­ery­thing from small roads to the city’s ma­jor thor­ough­fares.

More than 20 inches of snow fell in the cap­i­tal. By 7 a. m. on Satur­day, the AEMET na­tional weather agency had recorded the high­est 24hour snow­fall seen since 1971 in Madrid. AEMET had 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.

Trans­port Min­ster Jose Luis Aba­los warned that “snow is go­ing to turn into ice and we will en­ter a sit­u­a­tion per­haps more dan­ger­ous than what we have at the mo­ment.”

He added that the pri­or­ity was to as­sist those in need but also to en­sure the sup­ply chain for food and other ba­sic goods.

“The storm has ex­ceeded the most pes­simistic fore­casts we had,” Aba­los added.

Air­port op­er­a­tor AENA said that the Adolfo Suarez MadridBara­jas 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, both com­muter routes and longdis­tance pas­sen­ger trains, as well as rail­way lines be­tween the south and the north­east of the coun­try, were sus­pended, rail­way op­er­a­tor Renfe said.

The re­gions of Castilla La Man­cha and Madrid, home to 8.6 mil­lion peo­ple al­to­gether, an­nounced that schools would be closed at least on Mon­day and Tues­day.

 ?? Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Im­ages ?? Madrid res­i­dents use skis to nav­i­gate streets af­ter more than 20 inches of snow fell in the Spanish cap­i­tal. The storm stranded thou­sands of trav­el­ers in closed air­ports and rail sta­tions.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Im­ages Madrid res­i­dents use skis to nav­i­gate streets af­ter more than 20 inches of snow fell in the Spanish cap­i­tal. The storm stranded thou­sands of trav­el­ers in closed air­ports and rail sta­tions.

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