A winter storm centred over Mallorca has brought snow, wind and rain, causing widespread disruption across southern Europe.
Thirty three of Spain’s 50 provinces were hit by the fresh wave of bitterly cold weather on Thursday.
Police and military services rescued some 400 people from vehicles stuck on roads cut off by heavy snowfall across northern Spain. The country’s rail company, Renfe, suspended services between Leon and the northern coastal region of Asturias.
In the province of Leon, civil guards rescued 19 “disorientated” Catholic pilgrims, including three Koreans, a South African and 13 children, on the road to Santiago de Compostela.
It snowed on the Balearic Island of Mallorca, while snow drifts covered cars in western Switzerland and the French town of Lausanne.
In the north of Italy, the regions of Liguria, Piemonte, Lombardia and Tuscany were also covered in drifting snow. The highway between Naples and Milan was closed, awaiting clearing crews.
Snow and gale force winds gusting to 120kph disrupted border traffic in Slovenia. The weather, the worst of the winter so far, caused Slovenian authorities to close border crossings for all truck traffic, creating long queues. Many trucks were stopped at border crossings in neighbouring Croatia, as well as Italy, Hungary and Austria.
Venice saw some snow but authorities are more concerned with the rising water levels. Tides and the storm surge have brought the water level to within 25cm of a red alert. Coastal flooding and large waves are a continuing risk into the weekend.
This storm is not over yet and severe gales are possible for a time on the Italian coast and the Balearics.
Rain is likely to melt some of the snow already on the ground, or cause flooding in its own right, in the Balkans, Italy and possibly Switzerland.