Taken from El Pais
From the biggest snowfall in a century and an exceptional cold snap, to unseasonable highs, this winter has gone from one extreme to another in Spain, swinging within a temperature range of 50ºC.
Intense northerly winds in late December brought an arctic air mass to the peninsula, which became stagnant and continued to cool. The interaction between this mass and Storm Filomena’s air flow, which was very humid and relatively warm, caused a massive snowfall, the scale of which had not been seen in Madrid since 1904.
A second cold snap followed in the wake of Filomena, breaking five records for the lowest minimum temperature. But it wasn’t only the minimum temperatures that were below freezing: the thermometer barely rose during daylight hours either, so two records for the lowest maximum temperatures were also broken.
Within 10 days, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction, with unusually high temperatures that broke 20 records. On January 29, temperatures reached almost 30ºC in Alicante, the highest temperature ever recorded in January by AEMET. Between the -25.2ºC felt that day in Molina, in Castilla-La Mancha, and the 29.8ºC reading in Alicante, there was a difference of 55ºC, an unprecedented temperature range in Spain.
Meanwhile, Storm Hortense triggered a bizarre meteorological episode on January 22. Even more staggering is the fact that the phenomenon was repeated on February 5. And, to cap it all, there were two very intense episodes of suspended dust in February. The first one caused a muddy downpour that reached as far as the Pyrenees, where it turned the snow a deep shade of ochre in a weather event not seen for 30 years.