What is a cold snap?

Do we know what a cold snap really is? Now, when practically all of Spain is experiencing a meteorological situation typical of winter, it is interesting to know what this phenomenon is and how it originates.

So, let's know more about the cold snap.

What is it?

A cold snap is a phenomenon by which the air temperature drops dramatically as a result of the invasion of a cold air mass. This situation lasts for more than a day and can cover hundreds or thousands of square kilometers.

There are different types?

Yes, there are two types:

  • Polar air masses (polar wave, or polar cold wave): they are formed between 55 and 70 degrees of altitude. Depending on where they go, they will experience some changes or others. For example, if they move towards areas with warmer temperatures, they will heat up and, in doing so, will become unstable, thereby favoring the formation of storm-type precipitation clouds; On the other hand, if they go towards the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the air will be loaded with humidity and when they come into contact with the fresh waters, banks of fog or precipitation clouds will form that will be weak.
  • Arctic and Antarctic or Siberian air masses: they originate in areas near the poles. They are characterized by their low temperatures, high stability, and low moisture content, which is why cloudiness is scarce. They do not usually produce heavy snowfalls unless they pass over the Atlantic Ocean, since in doing so they become unstable.

When is a cold wave considered to affect Spain?

In Spain the following thresholds have been established:

The temperature must drop 6ºC at least in 24 hours. Depending on the area, the minimum temperature should be one or the other:

  • On the coast of the peninsula, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla the minimum temperature must reach a threshold of 0ºC.
  • In areas whose altitude is between sea level and 200 meters, the minimum temperature must reach a threshold between 0 and -5ºC.
  • In areas whose altitude is between 200 and 800 meters, the minimum temperature must reach a threshold between -5 and -10ºC.
  • In areas whose altitude is between 800 and 1200 meters, the minimum temperature must reach a threshold lower than -10ºC.

For higher altitudes, thresholds have not been established since the population is assumed to be used to it, or else it is in non-populated areas.

Protection measures

To avoid problems, It is very important to protect yourself from the cold by wearing thermal clothing, if possiblePutting on pants, a sweater and a jacket will suffice rather than putting on many pieces of clothing, which may be uncomfortable. Likewise, it is essential to protect the neck and hands, since otherwise we could end up with colds in less time than we think. If we are sick, we must go to the doctor and avoid going outside until we get better.

In the event that you have to take the car, you have to see the weather forecasts as well as find out about the possible use of chains, especially if you have to pass or go to areas where it has snowed.

We hope this article has been useful to you 🙂.

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