Late snow hits Iberian Peninsula

Unseasonably late snowfall has hit parts of the Iberian Peninsula with the threat of snow still to come in France and Italy.

Steady snowfall was reported in the Serra de Estrela mountains, in central Portugal, late on Thursday.

Although not unprecedented, snowfall this late in May is highly unusual.

Heavy rain fell across Iberia as a low pressure system moved in from the Atlantic. As it did so, it dragged in cooler air from much further north, enabling the rain to turn to snow at the higher elevations.

The temperature at Torre, the highest point on mainland Portugal (1993 metres elevation) fell to minus 1C late on Thursday.

Computer models suggested that snow was likely across the Cantabrian mountains of northern Spain, the Pyrenees and the Cottian Alps, between France and Italy.

The latter region could see accumulations of more than half a metre of snow over the next few days.

More southern parts of Iberia have not escaped the unseasonal weather. The predicted maximum temperature in Madrid on Saturday afternoon was expected to be around 16C, some five degrees below the mid-May average.

Although drier weather is expected to return across the Peninsula, the recovery in temperatures will be slow with temperatures in the Spanish capital not expected to reach 20C before Wednesday.

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