Army drafted in to save stranded drivers near blizzard-hit Spanish capital

Drivers in Madrid had to be rescued from their cars today after unprecedented heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena wreaked havoc across Spain, leaving thousands of drivers stranded.

The M-30 and M-40 motorways near to the Spanish capital were among 400 roads on which traffic was affected by the heavy snowfall.

Madrid city council called on citizens to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel as a result of the unusual blizzard.

Ten regions, including the Spanish capital, were placed on red alert earlier today, with more heavy snowfalls predicted. 

Thousands of motorists were left trapped in their cars in the Spanish capital of Madrid because of unprecedented snowfall

Thousands of motorists were left trapped in their cars in the Spanish capital of Madrid because of unprecedented snowfall

The Spanish Unit for Military Emergencies deployed 147 soldiers to help rescue drivers who had been left stranded because of the snow

The Spanish Unit for Military Emergencies deployed 147 soldiers to help rescue drivers who had been left stranded because of the snow

The M-30 and M-40 motorways near to the Spanish capital were among 400 roads affected by the heavy snow

The M-30 and M-40 motorways near to the Spanish capital were among 400 roads affected by the heavy snow

Madrid city council called on citizens to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel as a result of the unusual blizzard

Madrid city council called on citizens to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel as a result of the unusual blizzard

Emergency services worked through the night to help rescue stranded motorists, with heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena leaving cars and lorries alike stuck on Spanish motorways

Emergency services worked through the night to help rescue stranded motorists, with heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena leaving cars and lorries alike stuck on Spanish motorways

Speaking to Spanish television RNE from her car, one woman said: ‘I drove to see my husband in hospital and have been stuck here for three hours. It’s a journey which should take 15 minutes.’ 

The Spanish Unit for Military Emergencies, which deployed 147 soldiers to help stranded drivers, tweeted to say: ‘We continue the rescue of vehicles on the A4, A5, M40 and M607.’ 

Emergency services said around 1,000 trapped motorists had been reached by the early hours of this morning.

Carlos Novillo, director of Madrid Emergencies, described the situation as critical but added: ‘We’re still working on reaching cars trapped on the M40 and M506 motorways.

Emergency services said around 1,000 trapped motorists had been reached by the early hours of this morning

Emergency services said around 1,000 trapped motorists had been reached by the early hours of this morning

Carlos Novillo, director of Madrid Emergencies, described the situation as critical but that emergency services were still working to rescue people on the A4, A5, M40 and M607

Carlos Novillo, director of Madrid Emergencies, described the situation as critical but that emergency services were still working to rescue people on the A4, A5, M40 and M607

Ten regions, including the Spanish capital, were placed on red alert earlier today, with more heavy snowfalls predicted

Ten regions, including the Spanish capital, were placed on red alert earlier today, with more heavy snowfalls predicted

Airport staff at Madrid's Barajas Airport play in the snow after flights were suspended because of the heavy snowfall that swept across the Spanish capital

Airport staff at Madrid’s Barajas Airport play in the snow after flights were suspended because of the heavy snowfall that swept across the Spanish capital

The heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena completely covers this parked plane at Madrid's Barajas Airport, which has suspended all flights

The heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena completely covers this parked plane at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, which has suspended all flights

‘We’re going to reach everyone and help them get to safety.’

Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos added: ‘We are in the grip of an historic storm and obviously it’s had a huge knock-on effect on transport.’

On the A4 in Madrid, the Red Cross set out to deliver food packages to lorry drivers who were also trapped in their vehicles because of the snow. 

Meteorologists had predicted Friday’s snowfall to reach around 20cm with temperatures hovering around freezing. 

With flights out of Madrid's Barajas Airport, people have been left lying on the floor waiting on news about their flights

With flights out of Madrid’s Barajas Airport, people have been left lying on the floor waiting on news about their flights

Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos added: 'We are in the grip of an historic storm and obviously it's had a huge knock-on effect on transport'

Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos added: ‘We are in the grip of an historic storm and obviously it’s had a huge knock-on effect on transport’

Madrid also closed Barajas Airport on Friday night as a result of the chaotic weather which made flying impossible

Madrid also closed Barajas Airport on Friday night as a result of the chaotic weather which made flying impossible

Meteorologists had predicted Friday's snowfall to reach around 20cm with temperatures hovering around freezing

Meteorologists had predicted Friday’s snowfall to reach around 20cm with temperatures hovering around freezing

It wasn't just cars trying to traverse the snowy roads in Spain, this line of cars and nearly entirely covered in a thick blanket of snow

It wasn’t just cars trying to traverse the snowy roads in Spain, this line of cars and nearly entirely covered in a thick blanket of snow

Madrid also closed Barajas Airport on Friday night as a result of the chaotic weather which made flying impossible.

At least 50 flights to Madrid, Malaga, Tenerife and Cueta were cancelled as a result of the airport shutdown.

Aena, who controls all of Spain’s airports, tweeted: ‘Owing to the forecast of snow and for security, Madrid Barajas airport will remain closed throughout Saturday’.

The airport’s closure came after the Real Madrid team were left trapped on a runway for four hours last night before being given a go-ahead to take off. 

Despite the chaos for drivers, some people in the Spanish capital took the rare opportunity to enjoy the snowfall

Despite the chaos for drivers, some people in the Spanish capital took the rare opportunity to enjoy the snowfall

Skiers were seen gliding through the Puerta del Sol plaza in central Madrid, while one man was spotted making his way through the capital with his sled dogs

Skiers were seen gliding through the Puerta del Sol plaza in central Madrid, while one man was spotted making his way through the capital with his sled dogs

Car salesman Javier Talanco (pictured) took his five huskies out for a spin in surreal scenes after historic snowfall left the city looking more like Reykjavik

Car salesman Javier Talanco (pictured) took his five huskies out for a spin in surreal scenes after historic snowfall left the city looking more like Reykjavik

On top of the airport closure, Madrid city council confirmed that all bus services in the capital had been suspended

On top of the airport closure, Madrid city council confirmed that all bus services in the capital had been suspended

A bulldozer works its way along a road in Madrid, pushing snow out of the way in an attempt to clear the road

A bulldozer works its way along a road in Madrid, pushing snow out of the way in an attempt to clear the road

Madrid city council said that in addition to Madrid’s airport closure, all high-speed rail services between the capital and the southeastern cities of Alicante and Valencia had been suspended.

A record temperature of -35.6 degrees C was recorded at Vega de Lourdes in Leon, northern Spain, the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) said.

Bus services within Madrid have also been halted for now.

Despite the chaos for drivers, some people in the Spanish capital took the rare opportunity to enjoy the snowfall.

High-speed train services to southeastern cities such as Alicante and Valencia had been stopped because of the snow

High-speed train services to southeastern cities such as Alicante and Valencia had been stopped because of the snow

Workers in Madrid work to plow some of the snow near a metro entrance earlier today following heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena

Workers in Madrid work to plow some of the snow near a metro entrance earlier today following heavy snowfall caused by Storm Filomena

A few brave people decided to head out into the city and battle against the heavy snowfall

A few brave people decided to head out into the city and battle against the heavy snowfall

Huge areas of Spain, including Madrid, have been left blanketed in a thick layer of snow after Storm Filomena wrought havoc overnight

Huge areas of Spain, including Madrid, have been left blanketed in a thick layer of snow after Storm Filomena wrought havoc overnight

A puppy plays in the thick snow in Madrid earlier this morning after the Spanish capital was set upon by Storm Filomena

A puppy plays in the thick snow in Madrid earlier this morning after the Spanish capital was set upon by Storm Filomena

A woman wrapped up in warm clothing braves the heavy snowfall as she walks through a street in Madrid this morning

A woman wrapped up in warm clothing braves the heavy snowfall as she walks through a street in Madrid this morning

Skiers were seen gliding through the Puerta del Sol plaza in central Madrid, while one man was spotted making his way through the capital with his sled dogs.

Car salesman Javier Talanco took his five huskies out for a spin in surreal scenes after historic snowfall left the city looking more like Reykjavik.

Javier, who practices the dog-powered sport of mushing but normally in the mountains, treated the children of neighbours to rides on his sled after the heaviest snowfall in Madrid in at least 50 years.

He said afterwards: ‘They have snow in their blood and as soon as they saw it out of the window, they started getting nervous and wouldn’t stop playing.’

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