Filomena will be a name to remember in Madrid. Filomena arrived and Madrid closed. Or he confined Madrid and not by decree. The city collapsed. It will be remembered: January 8, 2021, in the middle of the third wave of a terrible pandemic like never before known. Late at night, the government delegation requested the intervention of the army to unblock some roads. By then the streets of Madrid were a ghostly territory among pedestrians trying to enjoy the snow and vehicles unable to move forward, left to their own devices. As was the case with dozens of EMT buses.
At 7:45 p.m. they had been ordered to retreat to the garages. But it was an impossible order to fulfill. At least at 11:30 p.m., three and a half hours later, for eight buses trying to get past a roundabout on Avenida de la Enlightenment. They could not advance. Juan, conductor of line 82, found it impossible to climb Ginzo de Limia to reach Herrera Oria, where a colleague had managed to approach the garages. In just 100 meters, six buses stranded. “We stayed here all night. I come from Moncloa and there I was able to advance because there was a snow plow ”. The cars did manage to cross the avenue, but the red light caused some havoc when braking.
Shortly after the order to the busses, it became known that all the The English Court closed its doors. It is not anything, at the beginning of the sales. By then, the M-40 had already begun to collapse at some points, then the M-30, first at the Manoteras junction, then the evil spread throughout the entire road. By the time the buses began a return trip with an unsuspected end, a warning arrived that was not remembered in the city, of which there is no recent memory: it will be necessary to use chains in the capital from ten at night. It was too late for thousands of trapped vehicles.
The idyllic image of the snowy Retiro, of the Casa de Campo with skiers, of the roofs, parks and gardens dressed in white for the occasion, went into the background. It was not going to be a day for post-Christmas postcards.
The mayor had announced in the early afternoon that “Red alert” on his Twitter account, to warn that the situation in the streets of the capital “was not good” and ask the people of Madrid for caution. Many inhabitants of the capital and the Community knew that they had been on a red alert since the night before, due to the warnings of the meteorological services that have spread it through all the media. Whether the mayor’s notice was late or extemporaneous just by looking out the window, it was sung that there was going to be a great snowfall, with an aperitif on Thursday and with a second course for Saturday, and that temperatures could reach record figures with start of the week. Madrid, in the middle of the afternoon, was already wearing white, even its roads, as it had not been seen for a long time. Great snowfall? Record snowfall? We will have to await the judgment of the meteorologists.
There were people who did not listen to the mayor. Javier, 18, an engineering student, slung his skis on his shoulder and slipped down Espronceda street, in the Chamberí neighborhood. His father remembered all the times he took him to Sierra Nevada as a child. “I never imagined that I would be able to ski on my doorstep,” he said. On the opposite sidewalk, Oscar, a man who was walking Miko, your dog. “But it is very homemade and has touched the snow and has been scared.” Oscar was carrying Miko in arms back home.
Chaos spread in the Castellana. Cars sliding until they collided with others, frozen engines that said up here, pedestrians pushing vans, kids with dashboards. snowboard and even people who discovered that they could not continue with their motorcycle and left it parked on the sidewalk. In a minute it looked like an ice sculpture.
The situation, in short, was not good. The consequences of what was seen to come, before the mayor’s warning, appeared in many places. The first controversy jumped with the determination of the Rey Juan Carlos University and the Polytechnic to demand that Monday’s exams be face-to-face even though temperatures that may drop below -10 degrees are expected, but not before calming the student population by warning that The windows will be open, so that the polar air circulates and the risks of contagion are reduced.
“The forecasts of up to 13 degrees below zero for next week, added to the red alert of snow storm for today and tomorrow, make the continuity of the January exams unfeasible,” the students say in a statement, where they ask to change the face-to-face exams. The Polytechnic did not respond. Different decision was made both in the Autonomous and Complutense, which postponed the call until further notice.
Controversy there was none in regards to schools and institutes, which will turn on the heating on Saturday as a forecast for what may happen on Monday. “I have given the order to leave the heating on in all schools, institutes, nursery schools and other centers throughout the weekend, for Monday,” said President Isabel Díaz Ayuso on Twitter, “The snow will tell us how streets and roads evolve during the weekend ”.
At nightfall, Madrid gathered in the streets of Ciudad Lineal, having drinks like any other Friday with entire families playing snowball battles. The Vicuña, father, mother and three children, took advantage of the curfew to play in the street. “All against me, no,” said little Meily, while protecting herself from the balls.
At the door of the bars on Avenida Institución Libre de la Enseñanza, customers watched the scene with their glasses in hand. The greatest spectacle is given by the cars, which skid, or run aground in the snow. One narrowly escaped serious disgust. Fortunately, a branch that did not support the weight fell without hitting anyone.
In the 24-hour pharmacy on that same street, Javier González lives a quiet night. No one has arrived with emergencies. “Only one man has come for a mentolin.”
But it is enough to walk a little to anticipate that it is going to be a bumpy night. At the intersection of Arturo Soria with Calle Alcalá, a driver gets out furious to face a young man. “Do you think the sidewalk is yours?” Pedestrians have taken over the streets and drivers return desperate, many after having spent hours stuck, without the certainty of a return to a warm bed.
Added to the incidents on the roads was what was beginning to happen inside the capital. The Sinesio Delgado tunnel, the one in the Dominican Republic, was cut off, the announcement came that the SER (Restricted Parking Service, parking meters) was canceled for Monday. That made many smile.
Late at night, with the roads closed and the streets impassable, the news arrived that ended up consummating the day: the closure of the Barajas airport. The final shot of the expected great snowfall. But there was something else left, the government delegation asked the army for help.
The afternoon, as Almeida announced belatedly, was not looking good. Effectively.
Do you know cases of unattended emergencies in Madrid? Contact the reporters of the Madrid section Juan Diego Quesada [email protected] or Fernando Peinado [email protected] or write to them on Twitter @jdquesada O @FernandoPeinado
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.