By Humphrey Carter
TODAY is the first day of winter and, as if we did not need reminding, the Balearics is on weather alert for gale force winds and snow.
With minimum temperatures dropping to as low as five degrees over the next few days and the snow level falling to as low as 800 metres before the weekend, we are set for a big freeze this weekend. Agustín Jansá, director of the Balearic Meteorological Centre in Palma, said yesterday that the worst of this new cold snap will grip the Balearics over the weekend with snow forecast on both Saturday and Sunday although the first flurries at 1'000 metres is forecast to start falling in the Sierra de Tramuntana today. Apart from the snow, one of the other key factors is going to be the gale force winds which will increase the chill factor. “It's going to feel very cold,” Agustín Jansá said yesterday. Nearer sea level, today's isolated showers are going to get worse and, come the weekend, torrential downpours of around 20 litres per square metre, or more, can be expected across the Balearics. Agustín Jansá said that near-freezing temperatures, snow and gale force winds are not unusual for this time of year but, after a relatively mild Autumn, the snap in the weather is going to come as a shock to many people. The emergency services are also closely watching this polar front which is coming our way from central Europe.
The snowfalls here in the Balearics are unlikely to be heavy enough to close roads but the overnight freeze and possible black ice is a factor drivers are being urged to take into account over the next four days. What is more, for people planning on travelling to the mainland, the advice is to check the long term weather forecast as in some regions, particularly the northern half of Spain, the cold snap is going to be very severe. The deterioration in the weather yesterday hit shipping in the Balearics.
Balearia yesterday cancelled its 8am and 3.30pm crossings from Alcudia to Ciutadela because of high seas and suspended its return sailings.
The head of Spain's main central weather centre, Angel Rivera, said yesterday that the long range forecast for next week points to an improvement in the weather from Monday, but there is another cold front chasing this weekend's polar front which could move over the mainland. Whether it will reach us here in the Balearics, Angel Rivera said it is too early to say.

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