By Humphrey Carter
THE weekend restrictions on road access to the Serra de Tramunta mountains were lifted yesterday morning enabling scores of snow hunters to head for the hills.
Guardia Civil traffic police and members of the emergency service carried out an early morning inspection of the main roads leading up and into the mountains. They declared them safe for all vehicles after it failed to snow again on Friday night and temperatures did not fall as low as expected.
However, day-trippers and hikers are advised to stay away from the mountains today as more snow is forecast to fall as low as 500 metres this afternoon.
Traffic chiefs said yesterday that all of Majorca's roads were open again although on some roads, such as the one down to Sa Calobra, drivers are urged to proceed with extreme precaution because of black ice.
However, despite yesterday's apparent lull in the polar snap, the Balearics remains on category one alert with all the emergency services and security forces on stand by with an unsettled day forecast today.
In Minorca, it could snow again at 150 metres and the Balearic government said that it will be closely monitoring developments. Certain traffic restrictions could be reinforced for Monday should conditions deteriorate.
The improvement in the weather yesterday finally enabled Balearia's fast ferry Nixie to sail from Ciutadella to Alcudia.
The service had been postponed since Monday because of gale force winds with gusts of 80 kilometres per hour and very high seas in the channel between Majorca and Minorca.
Balearic meteorological centre director Agustí Jansá explained yesterday afternoon that the situation has calmed significantly.
Only in the mountains did the temperatures drop below 0ºC on Friday night.
In the Alfabia area, where the temperatures this week dropped as low as -8ºC, it fell to just -1ºC while in Sa Pobla and Porreres it was 3ºC and 5ºC respectively and in Palma, the temperatures rose as high as 7.5ºC.
In Minorca and Ibiza, the temperatures averaged out at 3ºC and 4ºC.
In Madrid at the National Weather Centre, the risk of a new polar weather front hitting Spain next week was reduced from Friday's 30 per cent.
José Ignacio Miró Casado, in charge for the weekend, said that the chances of a new cold front are very slight although there is a slight threat.
He said that over the next few days the temperatures will start to rise and will remain at their normal level for this time of year - only here in the Balearics will temperatures take slightly longer to warm up.
He also said that this week's big freeze is further proof that this is the start of a change in climate.
He admitted that similar polar fronts have hit Spain in the past. But this time there have been indications of a change in the climate although it may take the best part of 60 years to develop and it is still too early to say whether the change is going to be slight, moderate or dramatic, he said yesterday.
On mainland Spain there are still 120 roads closed and nine other regions are still on weather alert along with the Balearics.