THE BEACH IN ALCUDIA WAS WHITE YESTERDAY MORNING WHILE IN MINORCA, SNOW, HAIL AND FREEZING TEMPERATURES FORCED POLICE TO CLOSE THE MAIN MAHON TO CIUTADELLA ROADBy Humphrey Carter
THE meteorologists got it right this time around as snow (well heavy hail to be correct) fell on the beaches in the north of Majorca and Minorca yesterday with further flurries forecast for today at sea level. The worst of the polar front hit Minorca where a heavy hail storms forced police to close the main Mahon to Ciutadella road while the rest of the island was a complete white out yesterday morning as a 3 cm-deep blanket of hail and sleet fell across the island. The Guardia Civil, worried about black ice and poor visibility decided to close a three kilometre section the road which basically left the north of Minorca cut off from the south until the road was reopened after de-icing machines and salt sprinklers were used. The main road reopened just after mid-day but police patrols made sure traffic flowed at a steady and safe pace. 80 kilometre per hour winds also caused havoc with shipping in Minorca with all ferry services to Majorca and the mainland either postponed indefinitely or cancelled. The port of Alcudia was also brought to a halt by gale force winds and the fast ferry Federico García Lorca, operated by Balearia, which was forced to turn back to Palma two hours into its sailing to Ibiza on Wednesday, was still unable to set sail yesterday morning. But while ferries remained in port, the north east of the island awoke to find a layer of snow on the beach in Alcudia and Arta transformed into a winter wonderland. But while most of Majorca escaped the harsh bite of yesterday's chill winds and hail, today few areas will slip through the cold front's grip with snow forecast at 0 metres for the Balearics, heavy hail storms and northerly winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour in the north and across the central plain as temperatures fall further. Last night the Civil Protection department in Palma issued a serious weather warning on the eve of the arrival of the eye of the storm. Weather conditions are forecast to start improving tomorrow, but today temperatures are going to drop sharply to as low as -8ºC on the mainland and freezing in the Balearics. The meteorological office said last night that today and tomorrow morning will be intensely cold but a marked improvement in the weather will be noticed tomorrow afternoon. Gas and electricity company GESA has been braced for a surge in demand for the past few days and no problems with power supplies are expected. All ferry passengers are advised to contact their ferry company to check the times of sailings today, although with winds reaching over 100 kilometres per hour, most crossings will be suspended. Palma airport expects to operate as normal.
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