Historic wintry conditions cost Madrid over a billion euros, mayor says

Madrid, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Madrid officials have petitioned the national government to declare a disaster zone in the city as the cost of damages caused by unusually wintry conditions runs to approximately 1.4 billion euros ($1.7B), according to the mayor Thursday.

Storm Filomena blanketed the Spanish capital with some 20 centimeters of snow over the weekend. Ill-equipped for such adverse weather, the snow has yet to be cleared from many of the capital’s streets and squares.

A cold snap over central Spain this week has turned much of the now compacted snow into treacherous sheets of ice as temperatures plunge well below freezing at night.

The economic impact of the weather conditions, which comes as a fresh blow to the city’s hospitality industry, which is already struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, and material damage to buildings and infrastructure, is estimated at some 1.4 billion euros, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, the city’s mayor, said Thursday.

“We can confirm that 1,250,000 kilos of snow fell on the city uninterrupted for 20 hours,” the mayor said.

He said the cold snap that followed had brought temperatures to lows not seen in the normally temperate Spanish capital since the 1940s.

The mayor added that it would take the rest of the week to remove the snow and ice from pavements and restore mobility in the city.

Five days after the historic snowfall in Madrid, the garbage collection trucks have returned to work but a backlog in waste removal has seen trash bags piling up outside apartment buildings and next to recycling units in many areas of the city.

Officials hope to be able to reopen schools by Monday but some education centers have reported problems caused by the adverse weather such as fallen trees, broken heating systems and issues with electricity.

Local environmental officials have said that at least 150,000 trees in the Madrid metropolitan area’s parks, streets and squares have been damaged, accounting for 15% of the city’s overall tree population.

The country’s flag-carrier airline Iberia said it planned to operate just under three-quarters of its flights out of the capital’s Barajas airport on Friday, given the snow and ice build up on some of the runways and passenger infrastructure.EFE-EPA


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