The Balearics was hit by the big chill yesterday with those brave enough to venture out scuttling for cover and warmth in shops and bars as at mid-day the weather took another turn for the worse. Hard to believe that this time last week people were on the beaches and even in the sea. Gale force winds, which yesterday afternoon peaked at 120 kilometres per hour in some northern and eastern parts of the island, caused chaos in those areas. The fire and emergency services spent the day clearing up as trees were brought down along the coast and in Arta, part of a roof was lifted off by the wind, causing part of the building to collapse. None of the occupants were injured, but had to be evacuated while engineers and firemen secured the battered property. All maritime links between the islands and the mainland were suspended with sea conditions rapidly deteriorating after lunch. The air sea rescue service banned all recreational nautical activity with waves reaching nine metres in some areas, making rescue operations extremely dangerous. Across the Sierra Tramuntana, as more snow fell on the high peaks above 1000 metres, the snow line was due to fall to 700 metres last night. All the way down the east coast, the rain fell throughout the day at an average ot 60 litres per square metre, although in some parts, the rain was torrential with localised flooding causing serious problems for drivers as night fell. Traffic police were deployed to all major roads to monitor the situation and make sure that drivers were proceeding with care; although few people ventured out on the roads last night. Weather conditions are some of the worst the Balearics has seen in years and only a slight let up in the weather can be expected today. The rain will persist throughout the day although temperatures are forecast to rise slightly. But most people appear to be prepared. Across the island yesterday there were long queues outside gas depots with people stocking up on household heating fuel. All the warnings issued yesterday remain in place and be prepared for a cold start to the week.


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