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Heaviest snowstorm in 11 years finishes but still causes disruptions

Some schools and minor roads remain closed as snow becomes ice, while western towns struggle to remove it

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12 January 2021 11:43 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Filomena was the heaviest snowstorm that passed through Catalonia since 2010 according to the Catalan weather service (SMC), with up to 60cm of snow piled up in western Priorat county and in the southern Ebre river region.

Official data also show that the past fortnight has been the coldest since February 2012 on average – although not recognized by SMC, an unofficial weather station reported a temperature of -34.1C in a Pyrenean mountain hollow.

This rare storm has been causing disruptions for four days now and on Tuesday morning the situation was not back to normal yet in some areas despite the fact that most of the rough weather is now gone.

In western and southern Catalonia, local communities are struggling to remove the snow, which has turned into ice as the cold temperatures continue, with values of -6 ºC and -7 ºC. 

Some councils complained about the authorities’ lack of anticipation and said the reaction was late – hundreds of people spent over a day without electricity in towns such as Capçanes, Falset and Arnes. Some have electricity thanks to generators, and 64 still had no light as of Tuesday, with towns such as La Bisbal de Falset without internet or phone line. 

Over 3,000 children across Catalonia were not able to return to school on Monday for the first day of the second term after 53 centres had to remain shut – on Tuesday, 18 still couldn’t welcome their 789 pupils back yet. A few school bus routes are still suspended in the Conca de Barberà county. 

As for mobility, 14 minor roads continue closed due to snow, and parts of 15 more require snow chains to be driven on.

Damages affecting Ebre delta

The whole episode has also badly affected the Ebre river delta, as was the case with Storm Gloria almost a year ago.

A 6km-long isthmus known as the Barra del Trabucador, near the town of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, was battered by the storm with up to five-meter high waves and sea levels rising by 40cm.

On Saturday and Sunday, around 500 meters of the isthmus were flooded and by Monday afternoon it was apparent that more than half of the Barra del Trabucador had been wiped from the map.

The snow also damaged some buildings including the Vall Llach wine cellar, which is owned by well-known singer and former MP Lluís Llach.

The building’s ceiling collapsed under the weight of over 50 cm of snow and some 40,000 bottles were destroyed, resulting in estimated damages of at least €500,000.

Olive trees face freezing threat

The Filomena storm damaged crops and tore down hundreds of olive trees in Western counties like Les Garrigues, l'Urgell, Segrià, Terra Alta, or Ribera d'Ebre. But farmers fear that freezing temperatures could still cause greater harm and bring olive trees' production to its lowest since 2001.

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  • A resident of Tivissa, southern Catalonia, shovels snow from a road (by Eloi Tost)

  • A resident of Tivissa, southern Catalonia, shovels snow from a road (by Eloi Tost)

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