News, January '04

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News theme: weather and winter travel

Spain is not, contrary to its image, permanent summer! The tourist season is limited, even at coastal areas, except in the Canary Islands, to half the year. Winter, especially inland, is far harsher than it is in mild Britain, so far further north.

As the autumn goes on, the weather cools and rains become milder and more regular. Spain's autumn rainy season is often about two months long during October and November. Some time during this period snow appears on the peaks of the mountains and by early December the pistes are ready for the ski season along the Pyrenees, central mountains and the southern Sierra Nevada, the Peninsula's highest range. Occasionally, however, passes are closed due to snow drifting, so precautions are necessary already. The presence of snow on the peaks evidently brings cooler air to all inland parts, although in general the 'fall' of leaves is up to a month later than in northerly lands and in any case there are far fewer deciduous trees in the centre and south.

Travellers to areas other than coastal resorts and all drivers are recommended to be prepared for delays in travel from November on, should a cold, snowy patch hit. Carrying of chains is recommended, although most Spaniards do not use winter tyres. New regulations also make the carrying of two emergency triangles and from 2004 also a reflective jacket in all vehicles.

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