Mallorca, a popular Spanish holiday destination best known for its beaches and turquoise sea, was blanketed in snow as Arctic winds brought freezing conditions to its shores.
Photos showed snow across the island — a marked change in a place famous, according to its tourism board, for having more than 300 days of sunshine per year.
AEMET placed parts of the country under a red weather warning for high winds, with the warning remaining in effect as of Tuesday afternoon, with forecast wind speeds of between 46.6 and 56 mph. The island also could experiences ocean waves of more than 26 feet, with amber warnings issued for heavy rains.
Local media reported power cuts in a number of areas across the island as a result of the snow, with repair work being hampered by the conditions. The emergency services, meanwhile, urged residents to avoid any unnecessary travel.
The Mediterranean island was not the only part of Spain to be affected, with temperatures as low as minus-1.7 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in the northeastern province of Lleida on the Spanish mainland Monday, according to AEMET.
Mallorca normally experiences mild winters, with temperatures between 46 and 54 degrees, according to the island’s tourism board, and sudden, heavy rainfall is common in autumn and winter. Heavy snowfall is rare but not unheard of: Notable instances include seven days of snow in 1956 and two days in 2012.
AEMET said the cold snap was caused by a “mass of very cold air” from the Arctic, which caused a “significant” drop in temperatures across Spain and the Balearic Islands.
Climate change has altered the frequency and patterns of snow and other extreme weather in recent years. Research published in 2021 concerning the United States, Europe and other Northern Hemisphere regions found that changing temperatures in the Arctic — which is the fastest-warming part of the planet — are triggering changes in the atmosphere that allow blasts of polar air to travel southward more often.
A similar trend was noted by Miquel Salamanca, a meteorologist and a co-author of a recent book about snow who warned that snow on the Balearic Islands “will go from being a curiosity, as it is now, to becoming exceptional.”
“Everything suggests that snow in the Mediterranean in general, and on the Balearic Islands in particular, is going to decrease between 20 and 50 percent by the end of this century,” Salamanca told the Diario de Mallorca.
Climate change is expected to have other effects on the Balearic Islands, with one study into the impacts of climate change projecting changes including higher temperatures, heat waves, a reduction in average precipitation and an increase in sea levels.
Other parts of the world also have experienced extreme weather in recent months — including Europe’s warmest summer on record last year, wildfires in Chile and snow in Southern California.