HUNDREDS HEADED TO THE MOUNTAINS TO CATCH THE SNOW BEFORE IT ALL MELTED

TEMPORAL

01-02-2003
By Humphrey Carter
ENGINEERS worked round the clock yesterday to restore power supplies to some 15'000 consumers in Majorca and Minorca who were left in the dark on Friday night as gale force winds brought down trees and electricty pylons. By 5.30pm, most of the 2'000 people who were still without power at lunch time were back on line while the Civil Protection centre in Madrid lifted the weather alert in the Balearics. A marked improvement in the weather was clear yesterday although it took most of the day for Majorca and Minorca to recover from the battering the islands suffered. Yesterday morning three roads were still closed due to fallen trees and all sea links to Minorca were still cancelled because of high winds and heavy seas. The situation in Ibiza, where not only were sea links closed, a handful of flights were also cancelled and redirected, had returned to normal. Much of the heavy snow which fell on Friday melted away over night and the met office said that the gale force winds dropped significantly in the early hours of yesterday morning. On Friday, the north to north easterly winds reached 124 kilometres per hour in Capdepera (Majorca), 77 kilometres per hour in Palma, 99 kilometres per hour in Minorca and 35 kilometres per hour in Ibiza, the island which was worst hit by the adverse weather over the past few days. But while the gale force winds dropped, making work easier for engineers repairing some 40 power cables damaged by falling trees, the freezing temperatures made conditions uncomfortable, with minimum temperatures over the past 36 hours falling well below zero. Snow clearing machines were out in force at first light yesterday trying to reopen the Lluc to Ses Barques lookout road and the road down the mountain from Caimari to Lluc. Heavy snow drifts had also caused problems along the old road between Bunyola and Alaró. A spokesperson for airport authority Aena confirmed yesterday lunchtime that all three of the region's airpports were operating as usual. At least 12 flights were cancelled on Friday in Ibiza because of 109 kilometre per hour cross winds and in Palma because of airport closures on the mainland. Sea connections between Ibiza and Formentera, suspended on Friday, were operating as usual and all sea ports in Majorca were open, with ferry companies busy clearing the back log of ferry passengers, some stranded in Majorca since Thursday. Only Minorca remained cut off from the rest of the Balearics and the mainland. Today is expected to be a crisp but clear Sunday, according to the met office. Some isolated outbreaks of rain and showers will linger throughout the day bringing more light snow flurries to the Serra de Tramuntana. Elsewhere however temperatures will rise slightly as skies clear this afternoon and the moderate to strong north, north easterly wind eases.

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