By Humphrey Carter
THE Balearic government yesterday put the region on category one weather alert as the forecast polar front hit Majorca bringing the first flurry of snow to the Serra Tramuntana mountains.

Security and emergency service chiefs met council leaders, transport and power company bosses at mid-day to assess the situation and make sure all the necessary resources and material are in place and that emergency response units are ready to roll in response to any kind of emergency over the next 48 hours.

Power company GESA has taken the necessary steps to cope with an expected surge in demand for power while the Balearic Port Authority yesterday suspended sea links between Majorca and Minorca.

The gale force winds prevented the snow from settling for long, but do not be surprised to find the tops of the mountains caked in a blanket of snow this morning as the snow line fell to 300 metres over night.

Balearic met. office chief Agustín Jansá said yesterday that sleet and hail can be expected at sea level today. It may even snow on the beaches.
However, the snowfall over the next 48 hours is not expected to be heavy as rainfall is forecast to only be slight to moderate.
The emergency services are primarily concerned about the sharp drop in temperatures and the gale force winds which will peak at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour in the east of Majorca and Minorca.

Should there be an unexpectedly heavy dump of snow, the Council of Mallorca has three snow patrols on stand-by and was stocking up with salt yesterday.
Jansá said that for the rest of the week minimum temperatures in the heart of Majorca will sit at around freezing, while in Lluc it will drop to -5ºC or more, a very sharp contrast to the 12ºC in Palma and 9ºC in Lluc on Sunday night.

The full front of the polar freeze will be felt during the day with maximum temperatures unlikely to pass 6ºC or 7ºC.
Yesterday in Majorca, the temperatures dropped to 8ºC in Palma and 2ºC in Lluc and gale force winds of 90 kilometres per hour started to pound Capdepera and Minorca.

On Friday, temperatures are forecast to rise, but it will not last as the weekend is going to be a cold one.
In the meantime, emergency operation chiefs are urging us to only use our vehicles if we absolutely have to. They are recommending public transport. We are advised to stay away from building over-hangs and trees and stay away from the sea with waves of up to four metres expected over the next few days.

Driving is going to be particularly hazardous in the Serra de Tramuntana, where the army also have some snow ploughs on stand-by. Mountains with snow, strong winds and black ice are expected over the next few days.

Traffic police said yesterday that drivers should make sure they have a full tank of petrol, spare warm clothes and mobile telephones well charged.

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