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STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
MAJORCA narrowly escaped extreme storm conditions yesterday after the edge of a tornado forecast to sweep the south of the Island en route from Ibiza weakened before hitting land.

Agusti Jansa, director of the Balearic Meteorological Centre confirmed that in spite of a serious weather warning, the situation had now “quietened” and the Islands were not under threat. Lessons from last October's tornado which struck Majorca, leaving heavy material damage in Palma, have led the regional government to recommend that predictions of similar weather conditions should be accompanied by emergency procedures to “batten down the hatches”. As a result, on this occasion, the Balearic authorities' emergency directorate advised that precautions be taken by closing 135 schools located in Andratx, Banyalbufar, Calvia, Estellencs, Esporles, Puigpunyent and Palma. Later in the day, however, after reassurance from the Meteorological Centre, the red alert was “deactivated.” The Balearics however, remained on orange alert with the Emergency department confirming it was on standby for “Grade I” adverse weather conditions in accordance with information it had received from the Meteorological Centre. The level of severity indicates a likelihood of occurrence running between 40 and 70 percent. The Interior ministry called a meeting of heads of sections who were to coordinate any emergency handling operations. It instructed that reports should be made for future implementation and analysis on the effects of threatening weather, and how human resources, materials and equipment need to be manoeuvred to cope with the consequences.

Recommendations to members of the public included securing windows and doors; remove objects - loose or otherwise - which could be carried away by strong wind; staying away from areas at risk from falling objects and particularly electricity pilons and cables.

To avoid damage and danger from lightning strikes, disconnect electrical appliances, don't shelter under trees, avoid contact with water and in circumstances where it is raining heavily - stop up cracks and gaps so that water can't get into the house, and importantly stay out of subterranean garages or open areas below ground level, for example, steep ditches, pits, ravines, gulleys, dry river beds and water courses (torrentes).