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Rescuers of the Military Emergency Unit UME working hard after Storm Juliette DPA/PA Images
Storm Juliette

Snowstorm in Mallorca: Rescues, power cuts, sinkholes and snowmen

The government confirmed that residents of the island are in “good health” and that three helicopters were taking part in the search and evacuation operation.

A RARE SNOWSTORM hit the usually tropical Spanish Mallorca island this week leading to emergency services having to conduct rescues while the rest of the island experienced power cuts.

Storm Juliette, which hit the island on Tuesday, particularly affected the mountainous regions of Mallorca with road blockages and over a metre of snowfall in the northern mountain ranges.

A mix of snow and strong winds – with gusts of up to 117 kilometres per hour – is very rare for the sunny Spanish island which is used to 300 days of sun per year, according to their tourist board.

The storm dumped more than 100 litres of snow per square metre in several parts of the island, according to local media.

snow-storm-and-rain-in-mallorca A heavy wheel loader pushes snow from the road in Mallorca DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

 

Landslides in Palma de Mallorca and an eight-metre-wide sinkhole were also caused by heavy rain on Tuesday. 

Yesterday, rescue efforts continued in Mallorca as around 100 people were trapped by snow in a local monastery in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. The regional government of the Balearic Islands said it was working with security forces to reach a mountain road and two shelters “to rescue people who are still isolated” there.

The government confirmed that residents of the island are in “good health” and added that three helicopters were taking part in the search and evacuation operation.

Local emergency services, who are assisting with the operation, said late last night that 20 people had been evacuated from the monastery adding, “The rest will stay in the monastery.”

A woman and her child, who had been trapped since Monday, were rescued yesterday after a Guardia Civil helicopter was brought in to take them to safety in Soller – to a football pitch specifically, where a match was temporarily halted to allow the helicopter to land.

The video of the rescue shows players leaving the pitch moments before the helicopter lands in midfield and the rescuers usher the mother and child to the side of the field. 

The Guardia Civil also controlled roads leading into the mountains, attempting to prevent anyone who wanted to see the snow from visiting the mountains. The local rescue services also urged the public not to attend the mountains to look at the snow.

snow-storm-and-rain-in-mallorca Children and families enjoying the rare snow in Mallorca DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

The Spanish army’s UME emergency unit are currently clearing access to isolated areas, while the island’s energy provider, Endesa, attempts to restore electricity to various parts of the island.

Today, temperatures fell as low as -4 degrees in Escorca, a small town in the northern mountain range, and there is a ‘yellow alert’ for low temperatures for the whole island.

Storm Juliette affected many parts of Spain, not just Mallorca, with temperatures plunging to minus 16 degrees Celsius in the northern province of Guadalajara. The cold weather caused snow to fall in other places where it is rare such as the northern city of San Sebastian as well as the Mediterranean port of Barcelona.

A spokesperson for the Spanish National Weather office said that it was the “most intense snowfall” in Barcelona since 2018.

Ireland is expected to have its own cold snap next week but no snow is expected to fall.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that global warming has caused an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

The world has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times due to human activity, and the UN IPCC has warned that this is likely to pass 1.5C between 2030 and 2052 if the increase continues at the current rate.

It is not only temperature that has changed: there have also been changes in rainfall, declines in snow and ice, and increases in sea-level as the oceans heat up.

Additional Reporting from AFP

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