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Winter storm dumps historic snow on Spain, kills 3

Winter storm dumps historic snow on Spain, kills 3
A person walks next to El Prado Museum during the snowfall in Madrid on Saturday. Photo by Mariscal/EPA-EFE

Jan. 9 (UPI) -- A winter storm descended on the Iberian Peninsula dumping a foot and a half of snow in some areas and killing at least three people by Saturday, Spanish officials said.

The storm, dubbed Storm Filomena, dropped more than 19 inches of snow in Madrid, a figure not seen in the capital city since 1971, Spain's Aemet meteorological office said.

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The snow accumulation caused vehicles to become stranded on highways and forced the closure of train services and the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport. Some 160 departures and arrivals -- about 95% of all flights -- were canceled Saturday, according to FlightAware.

"The situation is serious and we can't ignore it," Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos said.

"I want to stress the need for people to stay at home and follow the guidance from the authorities. When the storm abates, we'll be facing an intense cold front, which will bring very low temperatures that will mean we'll need to deal with ice. We'll be getting into a situation that may be more dangerous than the one we're in right now."

One man died in the village of Zarzalejo in Madrid after becoming buried in snow, and in the town of Fuengirola, a man and woman drowned after their vehicle was swept away by a swollen river, The Guardian reported.

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Temperatures were expected to plummet to 10 Fahrenheit in the coming days as the storm moves out of the region.

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