The Foreign Office has issued an ‘extreme risk’ warning to British tourists travelling to Spain and an alert for those travelling to the south of France after a major storm slammed into the Costa Blanca and east coast yesterday causing 26-foot (eight-metre) high waves, flooding, up to three inches of snow fall and high winds.
Popular tourism hotspots including Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante were all put on red alert by the country’s meteorological office (AEMET) as Storm Gloria continued battered the mainland.
Warnings were also in place in Teurel, Albacete, Murcia, Girona, Tarragona and Castellon, while authorities in The Balearics, Almeria, Granada and Jaen remain on high alert.
As the storm swept into southern France today weather warnings were issued for Le Roussillon, Pyrenees Orientales and coastal department Aude until Thursday, with heavy snow and flooding expected.
Flights to London, Newcastle, Bristol and other major UK cities were cancelled for the second day running yesterday as Alicante airport closed before the storm struck the mainland.
Authorities are on standby in Teurel and Castellon for up to 15 inches of snow, while further waves up to 26 feet (eight metres) high are expected in Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona. Record 28 feet (8.46-metre) high waves have already been recorded in Valencia, local media reported.
Four people have died so far including a 63-year-old man, who was killed by falling roof tiles blown off by high winds in Pedro Bernardo, Avila.
The Foreign Office warned that high winds and snowfall from the storm are likely to cause road closures and disrupt transport services. ‘If you’re in the area, you should exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities,’ they said.
And for southern France, the UK MET Office warned: ‘French weather agency meteofrance.com has issued a weather warning for Le Roussillon area in the south of France until Thursday Januray 23.
‘There will be a risk of heavy snow in the mountain area (Pyrenees Orientales) and a risk of flooding in both the Pyrenees Orientales and the Aude including coastal areas.
‘If you’re in the area you should exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities.’
The UK MET office told MailOnline Storm Gloria has brought ‘very strong winds, large waves and heavy rain, as well as snow blizzards over higher ground’.
‘Its impacts include flash-flooding, river and coastal flooding, with very dangerous marine conditions. By mid-week the main low pressure area (causing the storm) will begin to fill and drift westwards.’
Spain’s AEMET warned yesterday that the storm could bring up to 150ml of ‘intense, persistent and locally strong rainfall’. It also warned of a total 984 to 1,640 feet of snowfall that could fall across a third of the Eastern peninsula.
They also predicted on Tuesday that the sea will have ‘very adverse conditions’, especially near Catalonia.
Horrifying pictures from today show massive waves breaking along the Barcelona shoreline and towering over yachets moored in Port Olympic marina, and waves engulfing the Barcelonetta beach.
As the storm made landfall in southern France it caused the sea to flood into a coastal town in Argeles-sur-Mer.
Emergency services were also pictured blocking more than 800 trucks and lorries on a key road in France as they waited for conditions to improve.
Terrifying footage from yesterday shows waves sweeping into Denia, Alicante and appearing to surround people trapped in their cars.
The beach in Javea, further down the coast, was pictured strewn with rubble and bits of wood washed up as the storm battered the mainland. Storefronts along the seafront were also smashed open.
Record 27 feet (8.46-metre) high waves have also been recorded in Valencia, local media reported, while footage from yesterday showed waves several feet high slamming into the coastline in Calpe, Alicante.
The river Algar, in the mountains, also burst its banks and gushing over a tourist viewing platform at the Algar waterfall in a torrent of rapidly moving water.
As the storm hammered its way over the Spanish mainland the rain froze, causing a deluge of snow to fall over inland areas in the interior of Valencia and Alicante.
The 35,000 residents of Villen, Valencia, were isolated this morning after a seven-hour snowfall left snow drifts between two and three inches high blocking roads into and out of the town.
Ploughs were also seen clearing the roads in Vilafranca, 40 miles from the Valencian coast, as piles of snow made major highways impassable, while many Spaniards took to social media to express their shock at the weather.
The 13th century Atalaya castle in Villena, Alicante, was photographed covered with snow next to houses and businesses in the area. Snow drifts were also pictured in Biar, Alicante, and across the area around Villena.
A brief snow shower was also filmed on the Costa del Sol in Mijas, the Olive Press reported.
Ryanair, which had several affected flights, told MailOnline yesterday that a ‘small number’ of its services would be diverted to either Murcia or Valencia airports following the closure of Alicante-Elche airport yesterday.
‘All impacted customers were notified by email and SMS message’, they said. ‘Customers arriving in Murcia or Valencia as a consequence of diversions will be coached to Alicante’.
‘Ryanair apologised for these schedule changes, which are completely outside of the airline’s control.’
Alicante-Elche airport was closed at 1pm on Sunday, ahead of the storms arrival. Airport chiefs said that the airport would remain closed today due to the storm.
It suffered roof damage last week when a fire broke out, which has also been blamed for the current closure.
A statement from Spanish airport operator AENA said: ‘Alicante-Elche airport will remain closed to air traffic today. The alert is being maintained because of Storm Gloria and continuing additional security measures due to the fire last week.’
There are reportedly 33 provinces affected by the bad weather.