Storms close high passes and drench Canary Islands

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The Independent Online

Snow and rainstorms swept across large areas of Spain yesterday, shutting down mountain passes in the north and prompting authorities to close water-logged roads in the Canary Islands.

Snow and rainstorms swept across large areas of Spain yesterday, shutting down mountain passes in the north and prompting authorities to close water-logged roads in the Canary Islands.

Of Spain's 17 regions, 13 were on weather alert. In Barcelona snow and hailstones fell several inches thick on northern beaches, as emergency services warned of strong winds on the coast. Motorists were told to put off their journeys. Between two and four inches of snow fell within 24 hours above 1,300ft (400m) across much of northern Spain.

Andalucia, Spain's southernmost region, which was preparing for carnival celebrations this weekend, was battered by torrential downpours. In the Canaries winds of 50mph were expected. The bout of bad weather began on Thursday night, with hailstorms in the northeast shutting Reus airport, south of Barcelona. Ryanair passengers on a Stansted-bound flight were forced to spend the night at the airport. Flights resumed yesterday morning.

The cold spell follows days of balmy weather, and Spanish almond farmers were fretting about the damage a sudden frost would caused to their blossoming crop.

Residents of Madrid, one of Europe's highest capitals at some 2,300ft above sea level, were bracing for snow last night. The city was readying thousands of tons of salt to keep the roads open.

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