Spain sees heaviest snow for 35 years as ten inches falls in 24 hours

Brits who headed to Europe this week in search of some winter sun were in for a nasty surprise as a snow storm swept across the continent and Spain experienced its heaviest snowfall in 35 years.

The usually sun-drenched holiday destinations in Germany, Croatia, Italy, Corsica and Serbia are all feeling the chill thanks to the freak cold snap.

Beaches at numerous coastal resorts – where tourists flock to escape the British weather – have been wiped out by freak snow storms.

But the cold weather didn’t stop Orthodox Russian Christians taking cold dips in freezing temperatures as part of a celebration of the Epiphany.
Bikini-clad women and brave, topless men dunked themselves underwater in various locations across Europe as the continent turned icy cold.

An Orthodox believer runs out of the icy water after plunging into a pond during the celebration of the Epiphany holiday in Moscow early on January 19, 2017

An Orthodox believer dips in the icy water during the celebration of Epiphany

A man dips in the icy waters of the Novosibirsk Reservoir during Epiphany celebrations

A woman holding a cross (left) during during the celebration of the Epiphany, one of the biggest religious events of the orthodox church in Belgrade, Serbia, and a girl offered towels (right) after dipping in the icy water

Epiphany celebrations at the Izmailovo Kremlin where dozens of people gathered around the icy water to watch Christians take the plunge

A woman takes a dip in the icy waters of a lake with an illuminated cross in the background  during Orthodox Epiphany celebrations in Minsk, Belarus

A steady stream of Orthodox believers line up to take a dip in the freezing cold waters in Vladivostok, Russia

Two bikini-clad women in Vladivostok emerge from the water with unsurprising looks of shock on their faces

A woman in a bikini clings onto the wooden sides as she is submerged in the ice-cold water in Vladivostok, Russia

A man splashes with a strained look on his face as he enters the water during the Russian Orthodox Church’s celebration

A bikini-clad woman emerges from the icy pool of water unscathed as she pulls the peace sign with both hands

A visibly cold believer pulls herself out from the water as steam rises in front of her in the chilly conditions

Snow on the beaches of Majorca where the freak weather has turned the island into a winter wonderland rather than the expected escape from the British climate

Two snowshoe hikers pass by a snow-covered tree at the Schauinsland mountain in Black Forest in Hofsgrund, southern Germany

A firefighter walks on a snow-covered road in La Porta, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica

A sculpture of a saint is covered by snow in the village of Rastoke, central Croatia, Wednesday

A woman scrapes the snow from her car after it was buried in a huge downfall in Amatrice, Italy

Two children play with the snow after freak weather hit in Bunyola, Palma de Majorca, in Spain’s Balearics Islands

The unusual weather has caused chaos in Majorca, pictured, and in mainland Spain where roads have been cut off and schools closed

A man walks along a snow-covered dock in the city of Denia, which is more accustomed to be being bathed in sunshine

Many who have retired to Spain for its sunnier climes were stunned to see snow covering beaches on the eastern coast today – and even sticking to the citrus fruits the country is famous for

Palm trees are normally associated with sunnier climes but these on Javea beach on Spain’s Costa Blanca were covered in snow today

In Eastern Christianity, the feast of Epiphany commemorates the Baptism of Jesus.

The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the holiday according to the Julian calendar, and many took part in events in Vladivostok, Russia, Belarus and Serbia.

People in the ‘sunshine island’ of Majorca woke up to find a blanket thick snow had left the isle looking more like the mountains of the Alps than the Med.

Snow even fell in the island’s capital Palma, which normally enjoys January temperatures of up to 18C.

Roads have also been cut off as unusual driving conditions caused chaos, leading to delays of four hours or more.

Schools on the Costa Blanca, home to popular resorts including Torrevieja, Alicante, and Benidorm, were closed this morning because of the heavy snow that had fallen overnight.

The snow is the heaviest that has been seen in Alicante since 1983.

Spain’s Met Office has issued an alert for adverse weather conditions, especially for the southeast peninsular and areas near Castilla-La Mancha and Aragon.

Orthodox believers standing in the Serbian knight costume during the celebration of the Epiphany, one of the biggest religious events of the orthodox church in Belgrade, Serbia

Orthodox believers standing in the Serbian knight costume as the snow comes down during the celebration of the Epiphany

Orthodox believers try to reach the Cross in Belgrade, Serbia, on January 18, in a swimming race during the celebration of the Epiphany, one of the biggest religious events of the orthodox church

Orthodox believers prepare to take the plunge in the freezing conditions in Belgrade ahead of a swim to mark the Epiphany

This restaurant in Valldemossa, a small village of Majorca, has been completely carpeted in snow

Benidorm offers normally year-round sun but residents and tourists have had to swap their sun umbrellas for snow boots

The village of Valldemossa seen dusted in lesser-seen snow. The bad weather has caused delays of more than four hours on local roads

Visitors walk over a snow-covered beach in the city of Denia in Alicante. Beaches at several popular coastal resorts have been wiped out by the freak snow storms

People walk on a snow-covered beach in Denia. Areas of southern Valencia and northern Alicante have seen up to 25cm of snow in 24 hours

Temperatures have dropped across the mainland, with frost and minus ten degrees in the mountain areas, and areas of southern Valencia and northern Alicante have seen up to ten inches (25cm) of snow in 24 hours.

The unlikely arctic conditions are down to a cold weather system sweeping in from Siberia.

The weather system has already brought bitterly cold conditions to countries including Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey, putting the lives of thousands of people under threat.

The beaches in Majorca are completely free of sunbathers – as they have almost-completely covered in snow

Denia, which lies halfway between Alicante and Valencia is more used to seeing sunshine than snowfall

A boy builds a snowman on a beach at Denia, in the Alicante region of mainland Spain. Schools on the Costa Blanca were closed this morning because of the heavy snow overnight

The snow is expect to last until Friday, when it will give way to rainy weather instead

The snow that has fallen on Spain is the heaviest the country has seen in 35 years. Here the streets of Denia, Alicante are seen covered in snow

Brits who have left behind the cold British winter and moved to Benidorm were in for a shock today when they found snow surrounding their swimming pools

The snow is expected to last until Friday when it will give way to rain instead.

Meanwhile, in Britain, no snow has fallen, and the UK is predicted to be warmer than parts of Spain, as temperatures rise, bring the country of of its deep freeze.

In good news for those who opted to stay at home and brave the January weather, an area of high pressure will draw in warmer air from the Atlantic, bringing milder conditions to the UK.

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