Storm Filomena hits Catalonia bringing snow and travel disruption
Lorries halted and long-distance trains canceled as minister urges people to stay at home
Storm Filomena arrived in Catalonia on Saturday morning with snow falling in Terres de l'Ebre and Ponent in the south and west, as well in areas of central Catalonia.
In Els Ports Natural Park in the south-west, 23cm of snow was recorded at an altitude of 1,055m, but lower lying areas such as the Ebre river delta also experienced widespread snow.
Interior minister Miquel Sàmper urged caution and warned against traveling over the weekend.
"If yesterday's advice was not to leave home, today's advice is not to leave home," he said at a press conference on Saturday morning.
2,000 lorries brought to a halt
Around 2,000 lorries found themselves immobilized by the storm, with 900 to 1,000 stuck in parking areas in La Jonquera on the Spain-France border, according to the Mossos d'Esquadra (Catalan police) commissioner Joan Carles Molinero.
By early Saturday afternoon the parking lots had begun to clear following the reopening of the border but local police warned the situation could worsen again if the weather deteriorates.
Another 300 to 400 trucks were forced to park up in industrial estates in Tarragona in the south of Catalonia.
Ahead of the storm's arrival, the Catalan government banned lorries over 7.5 tonnes from the roads between 7pm on Friday and 6am on Monday. Exceptions can be made for essential services, such as the supply of sanitary and pharmaceutical goods, food and agri-food production and distribution, and the transport of live animals and fuel.
Police have sanctioned more than 200 lorry drivers for violating the ban.
Roads closed and trains canceled
The heavy snowfall has also caused roads to be closed and trains to be canceled. On Saturday morning the C-12 between Maials and Albatàrrec (near Lleida) and the C-25 from Espinelves to Vilobí d'Onyar (near Girona) were both closed.
In addition, snow chains are required for vehicles traveling on some thirty roads across Catalonia, many of them in the Lleida region.
The high speed AVE service and other long distance trains from from Barcelona to Madrid and the south and north of the peninsula have been suspended due to adverse weather conditions in Calatayud and Zaragoza, according to Renfe.
Heavy snowfall has also caused all services of the R12 Rodalies line between Manresa and Lleida to be canceled.