WEATHER conditions in the Balearics were slowly returning to normal yesterday after an Arctic cold front took the region by surprise with plunging temperatures and pockets of sleet and snow.

The regional meteorological centre assured the public, reporting that such features were “normal” for this time of year and were to be expected.
There has meanwhile been trouble at sea with superferry “Pau Cassals” belonging to Balearia paralysed by high winds and left unable to anchor or follow its normal maritime passage along the south coast of Minorca for more than 36 hours. Carrying 20 passengers and 40 crew, the ferry has had to await the Balearic Port Authority's go ahead for it to enter the port of Mahon which had been closed since the early hours of Wednesday morning. Company sources said that as mooring could not be achieved until the wind speed was under 30 knots per hour, there had been fears that the Pau Casals may not be able to dock until tomorrow. At the height of the wind storm, gusts in the area were registered at 50 knots (100 kilometres) per hour. Balearia pointed out that their superferry was a vessel of giantesque proportions having room for 400 passengers and was capable of sailing in very rough waters - a fact demonstrated by the fact that the vessel was previously in service in the North Sea. Furthermore, over the past two years in which the ferry had been covering the Palma-Barcelona and the Palma-Ibiza routes, “there had not been a single cancellation.” So far as the present trip was concerned, a spokesman said that “everyone on board is fine and there have been no incidents.” In fact, he added, the passengers are rather enjoying themselves with plenty of cinema entertainment on board and all extra meals free of charge. “It's rather like having a holiday on the high seas,” said one client.