A storm in Spain has killed four people, paralyzed travel and blanketed the Spanish capital, Madrid, with so many snow skiers headed downtown.
Forecasters warned of further devastation next week after Storm Filomena brought the heaviest snowfall in decades to central Spain.
In the Madrid region, the rescuers reached 1,500 people trapped in cars, while residents snowboarded and pelted each other with snowballs and skis on the normally pedestrianized Gran Via.
A couple drowned in their car after a river burst near Malaga in the south, while two homeless people froze to death in Madrid and Calatayud in the east.
A 54-year-old man was found lifeless in his car after it was buried in snow in Zarzalejo, a village in the Madrid area.
Unconfirmed local reports said he had a heart attack and was unable to provide assistance.
The second death was a homeless man in the Carabanchel district of Madrid, who was believed to have died of hypothermia.
The couple who drowned in Mijas, Malaga, were a 56-year-old Colombian and a 46-year-old Spaniard.
Another couple in the vehicle with them, lying on the Fuengirola River when it was swept away just before midnight after a day of pouring rain last night, escaped.
The tragedy came when the two couples were returning from a service at a local church and had their car stopped by the river when they were caught by the flood.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “I want to reiterate the government’s call for maximum caution over the next few hours in the face of weather developments.”
Julian Morcillo of the State Metereological Agency (Aemet) said temperatures would drop to -10 ° C next week, bringing dangerous ice.
In Madrid, between eight and a half inches of snow fell, making it the heaviest since 1971, he added.
The capital’s Barajas Airport was closed from Friday evening, while more than 650 roads across the country were blocked.
Real Madrid players were trapped on the runway in their plane at Barajas Airport for almost four hours today.
They finally started for Pamplona, where they were due to play against Osasuna late today – three and a half hours after their scheduled departure at 7.30pm.
Municipal garbage collection and bus services in Madrid have also ceased.
Five provinces, including Teruel and Zaragoza, were on high alert this afternoon.