The normally glorious Mediterranean island of Majorca has been battered by winter Storm Juliette, with unprecedented snow falls bringing some of the worse-hit areas to a complete standstill, causing roads closures and leaving many towns without power.
The storm – which has also left its mark on the other Balearic Islands but to a lesser extent, as well as several parts of the mainland including Barcelona – has dumped over 20 inches of snow in the Spanish holiday destination’s mountains as well as significant amounts on lower ground, with more to come over the next 24 to 48 hours, according to the country’s meteorological agency, AEMET.
Waves of up to 25 feet have been recorded, amid winds that are estimated to reach up to 55mph, and with temperatures below freezing, Majorca’s residents are being advised to stay indoors, for fear of injury, in what have been described as very dangerous conditions.
The island’s emergency services have already dealt with nearly 400 incidents due to the snow, which has caught everyone by surprise.
Juliette is an unwelcome guest to the holiday island
For thousands of tourists, the image of Majorca (Mallorca) is of sun-drenched beaches, high temperatures and endless blue skies; but after Storm Juliette paid it a visit that picture looks very different indeed. The popular Spanish holiday spot has taken a real battering and has been left blanketed in snow.
The effects have caused widespread disruption right across a destination, which is a firm favourite of the British throughout the year. Towns all over the island have been covered by extensive smowfalls, as temperatures dropped below freezing, knocking out power in the likes of Valldemossa, Alaró, Vilafranca, Lluc and Port d’Alcúdia.
Chaos has ensued on the roads, as drivers attempt to master the tricky and unaccustomed conditions, not helped by the closing of up to 15 major through-ways, especially in the Serra de Tramuntana region.
Emergency departments flat out
Emergency services are dealing with fallen trees, flooded buildings and stranded drivers. Meteorological officials issued a rare red weather alert for the second day running, predicting more snow, blizzards and very cold weather, before the back end of the storm is expected to bring heavy rain storms, with huge waves and intense winds, before the week is out.
Rapid reaction squad called in
The Spanish Military Emergency Unit (UME) is currently being deployed at the request of the Balearic Government. They have been assisting in the evacuation of those people who have been cut off in certain areas, since first light on Wednesday morning (1 March).
A crack rapid reaction squad will be providing snow ploughs and heavy cutting equipment, as well as releasing engineers from various specialist departments.
Damage in the ports
Power lines have been brought down, mainly affecting the more rural areas of the island. It is understood that the storm has torn the roof off a petrol station in Cala Ratjada, which hit the exterior of some toilets which were under construction, and has also caused damage to many of the boats in the ports of Soller and Pollensa, which along with all passenger ports, remain closed.
Main town gets a sinking feeling
Pollensa in particular, has taken a big hit at its marina, with some boats having lost awnings and sails, while many masts been shattered. Also in Puerto Pollensa, part of the ceiling at a church literally collapsed, as a result of the abnormal weather. A similar incident occurred at the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma, where a ceiling also caved in.
Staying in Palma, which is the main town of the island, two giant sink holes suddenly opened up, just to add to the mayhem.
Smaller islands escape slightly better
Ibiza and Menorca haven’t escaped totally unharmed, although both will be relieved to have missed out on the damage that their bigger neighbour has suffered.
Menorca has had active orange warnings for strong winds, which has left the island cut off in places, following the closure of port Maó.
Snow fell on Ibiza, but to a far lesser degree, and their active warning was yellow, with 13 foot waves predicted; so not quite as bad.
Barcelona has an “un-Família”
Storm Juliette also hit mainland Spain before heading off towards the Balearic’s, leaving many provinces completely white over, as heavy snow fell on unfamiliar ground.
In Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia, temperatures plunged dramatically below freezing, meaning that for any visitors to the touristy city there was a distinctly unfamiliar look to Sagrada Família; and Antoni Gaudi’s Park Güell UNESCO site was more of a… UNESNOW site.
Long way off the record
There is still some way to go to beat the record snowfall for Spain which occurred way back in 1904 when astonishingly, five feet of the white stuff fell on Madrid, crippling the country’s capital for an extended period of time.