Officials have asked people to stay at home if possible after Storm Filomena dumped between 20-30 centimetres (7-8 inches) of snow on Madrid on Saturday, the heaviest snowfall since 1971.
The storm killed at least three people as it swept through Spain and kept emergency services workers and army snowploughs busy, freeing 2,500 drivers trapped in their vehicles.
Lacking enough salt and snowploughs, officials had only managed to clear main roads of snow and fallen tree branches by Monday, with most pavements, smaller roads and residential areas still covered.
The authorities are worried about the prospect of snow turning to ice, with temperatures expected to fall to up to minus 11 Celsius (12 Fahrenheit) on Monday and minus 13 (9 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.
The Madrid Barajas airport began operating with two runways Monday afternoon and was gradually getting back to normal,Transport Minister Jose Luis Abalos told reporters in Madrid.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the situation on the roads was improving but was still “extraordinary” and many remained closed.
Ministers declined to say if the capital city would be declared a disaster zone, saying they first needed to evaluate the damages.
Vaccine distribution ‘guaranteed’
The government has insisted the travel chaos will not affect the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, with 350,000 doses due to be rolled out nationwide on Monday.
“The delays — if there are delays — will be minimal and slight,” Interior Minister Grande-Marlaska told Spanish public radio. The distribution of the jabs to all regions was “guaranteed”, he added.
Throughout the weekend, people had been responding to calls to help clear vital paths in their neighbourhoods to allow access to hospitals and neighbourhood health centres.
Most residents heeded the government’s call to stay at home on Monday, with the capital’s streets all but deserted and quiet, except for the sound of shovels scraping snow and ice.
The few people who ventured out walked slowly, some using canes or sticks to support themselves and prevent themselves from slipping and falling.
In Madrid’s Prosperidad neighbourhood the playground remained covered in snow and fallen pine branches.
“People are not going out, especially older people,” said Javier Bermejo, a butcher in the local market who said he only expected to get more produce on Tuesday. “It’s a day to stay home.”
The deserted streets contrasted with the scenes on Saturday when residents of the Spanish capital ignored appeals that they stay home and flooded the streets to make snowmen, have snowball fights and even ski.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Snowstorm blankets central Spain, disrupts schools, transportation The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ France 24.