Extreme weather conditions that hit Spain yesterday  as a fresh cold snap began have left thick snow in the north, blocking roads, closing schools and forcing residents to be evacuated from their homes.

The Costa Brava is being swept by gales, snow in the Basque province of Bizkaia (Vizcaya, or ‘Biscay’) has left 600 homes without electricity and over 100 people in the province of Palencia, Castilla y León, have had to sleep in school sports centres after being trapped by snow forcing authorities to close the A-67 motorway in the Cantabria direction.

A total of 41 provinces, or 80% of Spain are under yellow, orange or red alerts for snow, avalanches, tidal surges, gales or cold weather with temperatures falling to as low as -10ºC.

Snow was even seen in the centre of Valencia city yesterday, a Mediterranean coastal metropolis which has some of the warmest weather in Spain and whose residents have rarely seen snow in their lifetimes.

The white stuff has led to the A-92 motorway in Huétor-Santillán, Albolote and Diezma (all in the Granada province) being shut, and drivers across the northern strip – from the Costa Brava to Galicia including the Basque Country, La Rioja, Navarra, Asturias and Cantabria – have been warned not to venture out without snow chains on their wheels.

More snow is expected today in the whole of Castilla y León, Navarra, the island of Mallorca, Cantabria, Asturias, La Rioja and the Basque Country, whilst avalanches are a serious risk in the Pyrénéen provinces of Lleida and Huesca and the region of Navarra.

Snow may even fall today and Friday in the provinces of Cádiz, Málaga, Córdoba, Jaén and Granada, all in Andalucía, as well as the Comunidad Valenciana, areas where temperatures below freezing are extremely rare.

Rising and overflowing rivers in the provinces of Zaragoza and Tarragona have led to workers being evacuated and schools closed.

And even here in Murcia we may see night temperatures over the next few days drop as low as -10ºC.

Gales are expected in the south-east of the mainland, Aragón, and the provinces of Jaén in the south, Castellón and Tarragona in the east, and the Balearic Islands, the latter of which may also suffer torrential rain and thunder storms.