By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
GALE force winds and heavy rain caused serious disruption to the first day of Bank Holiday in the Balearics yesterday.
Despite the efforts of the major shipping companies to lay on extra ferries for the holiday, winds gusting at 120 kilometres per hour in Minorca and between 80 kmph and 100 kmph elsewhere in the Balearics, gale force seven and eight, led to a number of sailings being suspended and ports in Minorca and Formentera closed.

Iscomar's morning and afternoon crossings from Alcudia to Ciutadella were suspended as Minorca was battered by the worst of the gales while Acciona-Trasmediterránea was forced to suspend their 8.30am sailing from Palma to Valencia.

Balearia tried to keep links open between Ibiza and Formentera by laying on a fast ferry and carrying passengers only but were forced to cancel crossings at mid-day.

Palma Port remained open, however, but all sailings arrived or departed late and tugs were being used to help ships in and out of port because of the high seas and heavy swells.

Air traffic controllers were also keeping a close eye on the winds but no problems or delays were reported by any of the three regional airports.
The Balearics remained on level 1 weather alert yesterday evening but the heavy downpours forecast for Majorca and Minorca were more localised than initially forecast and the worst of the weather hit the north of Majorca, where gales peaked at 120 kilometres per hour, and Minorca. However, everywhere people noticed the sharp drop in temperature.

An improvement is forecast for today with only an odd isolated shower expected along with a mild rise in temperature but the gale forces winds will continue to batter the region, with the emergency services remaining on alert.

Fire fighters were called out in Calvia, Soller, Pollensa, and Alcudia yesterday to clear trees and debris but nothing serious.

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