STAFF REPORTER
A BLANKET of snow fell in the early hours of yesterday morning, giving a white “icing on the cake” effect to the highest points of Majorca over 500 metres, including Puigmajor, Lluc, Bunyola and Coll de Soller.

According to the Balearic Meteorological Centre, it continued to snow at this altitude yesterday. At Lluc, 24 hours of snowfall had produced 29.6 litres per square metre; at Alfabia 3.4 litres; whilst at Bunyola 16.9 litres were registered.

As icy polar blasts swept the Island, temperatures plummeted to their lowest point at Palma airport where 1 degree Centigrade was recorded; 2 degrees in Porreres; 3 in Lluc; 4 in Sa Pobla; 5 in Porto Pí and 7.3 in Pollensa (the highest).

The Meteorological Centre said that apart from snow still falling above 500 metres, sporadic showers could be expected yesterday around the Island but as from today, skies would start to clear and temperatures would begin to rise slowly. According to sources at the Centre, temperatures recorded during the last 36 hours have been “lower than normal” for this time of year but squalls of sleet are known to assail the Islands in late autumn, giving a “wake up call” to the Balearics for the winter ahead.

Just such a storm hit Andratx on Thursday night with intense freezing rainfall buffeted by strong winds. Residents and visitors were taken by surprise by the fierce conditions.

Reacting to weather warnings yesterday, the Emergency services sector set up to deal with extreme weather conditions in the Islands said that there had been no need to impose special conditions as a result of the snows in the Sierra de Tramontana - a yellow alert category for the Meteorological Centre. Such notification triggers a procedure coordinated by the Balearic Authorities to ensure that all emergency services are on standby and in a position to interact with one another. The services advised drivers to keep their speeds down on the roads in anticipation of slippery surfaces and not to travel unless absolutely necessary, and preferably not alone. Keeping a full fuel tank was advisable as was carrying emergency equipment such as a radio, mobile phone, rope, chains, torches, warm clothing and calorie-rich food.

Meanwhile, the Balearic Ports Authority announced that the port of Mahón on Minorca opened at 10.30am yesterday after being closed since 7.30pm the previous evening due to severe weather conditions.

By 12.30pm yesterday, all the ports for which the Authority is responsible were open and operational although Iscomar's vessel “Nura Nova” suspended its schedule for the whole of yesterday because its planned sailing from Mahón the previous day failed to take place. Its captain decided to remain in Port until significant improvement showed in the weather.

It is perhaps an irony that while near Arctic conditions were prevailing in the Balearics, the mainland of Spain was enjoying a respite of clear skies and bright sunshine.

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