Rare snow storm in Portugal

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Today an uncommon snow storm covered much of Portugal. Apart from mountainous regions, snow is usually a rare vision in this south European country because flat terrain and a Mediterranean climate. However, January 2006 saw a cold wave sweeping across Europe, and since early morning snow fell in seaside towns like Figueira da Foz, in central Portugal, and the storm reached record south locations such as Algarve.

Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, received snow for the first time in 52 years. Other towns with a record snowfall were Leiria, Santarém, Évora, Setúbal, Portalegre, Sesimbra, Palmela, Fátima, Pombal, Abrantes, Torres Novas and Ourém.

Highways and roads were closed in much of central and south Portugal. In Montejunto, one hundred people were evacuated from their vehicles. The storm caused electricity to be cut in Elvas and other parts of the Alentejo region. A number of car accidents and fallen trees were reported to have only resulted in minor injuries. In Lisbon, the city government demanded subway stations to remain open overnight, so that homeless people could find shelter.

At 1500 GMT, phone companies saw a record level of calls and text messages due to surprised people contacting and warning each other.