THE polar front gripping the Balearics is not forecast to end until Tuesday, however, conditions are going to gradually start improving although temperatures will continue dropping to below freezing overnight and more snow is going to fall over the next few days.
The first of many clean up operations got underway yesterday with emergency teams busy clearing roads across the region.
The big freeze, the worst since 1985, started to thaw yesterday and by mid-morning the suspension of heavy goods vehicles and coaches was lifted, although rural school bus services remained suspended until further notice.
In Pollensa, where the schools opened as usual, not a single pupil turned up and in Estellencs, which was cut off until 2pm, the college did not bother opening its doors because conditions were so bad along the Esporles to Banyalbufar road.
There were a number of empty classes in Campos, Sineu, Inca, Santa Margalida and Santanyi.
Elsewhere however, those pupils who could, turned up for school as usual and in Palma attendance was 90 percent. But while the education services were not complaining, the agricultural sector is beginning to get worried about the big freezes which are starting to damage crops.
During Wednesday night, temperatures at Palma airport for example, and across the Balearics, dropped to an average of -4ºC, the lowest being in Alfabia -7.2ºC while in Ibiza, if fell to -0.3, the lowest for the past 20 years.
In Palma yesterday, the temperature struggled to the Balearic high of 5ºC while in Sa Pobla and Porreres, for example, the temperature failed to exceed 2.5ºC. The emergency service said that snowfall on Wednesday night was relatively low, but the big problem yesterday was the gale force wind which, not only made conditions feel much colder, but also caused snow banks which blocked roads and made driving extremely difficult.
Yesterday morning the biggest problems were on the Bunyola-Alaro road, the old mountain road from Palma to Soller, all roads leading from Pollensa through the Serra de Tramuntana to the Ses Barques lookout, the roads between Valldemossa and Esporles and down to Sa Calobra.
The port authorities did their best to keep ports open, but two sailings were cancelled.
Minorca airport was open as usual after being closed for five hours on Wednesday. In Palma, Air Nostrum cancelled six connections for operational reasons, and two flights from Palma to Mahon and Valencia were delayed by one and two hours respectively.
Gas consumption reached a new daily record of 221.4 tons, seven percent higher than the previous record, and some areas of Majorca and Minorca were hit by power cuts on Wednesday night. The huge surge on the power grid hit 937 megawatts, a new all-time high.
Power company GESA confirmed yesterday that its engineers had repaired 198 faults, 119 in Palma, since Wednesday morning.
A total of 36 teams of engineers are working round the clock, two of which got trapped in the snow near Esporles and Valldemossa delaying repair work.
Civil Protection stressed last night that the Balearics remains on category one alert and that while less snow may fall over the next few days, the big danger is going to be the cold. People should only use their vehicles if necessary especially early in the morning and late at night. What is not going to help is that the Balearics, along with the rest of Spain, is running out of salt for the roads. Half of the Transport Ministry's 60.000 tons has been used since Monday.
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