Historic snowfall in the mountains of Prades

prades, snowfall, catalonia

As Tarragona was hit by a deluge of water, in the mountains of Prades the bad weather front was taking a different shape. Tweets started reporting about a world turning white, with the snowfall continuing through the night.

The mountains of Prades, a wonderful complex geological region best known for its great wines, woodland, fields of almonds and hazelnut trees, was covered in the stuff, and this at one of the first days of Spring.

Situated at 40 minutes drive from here, the area which belongs to the Camp of Tarragona is used to the cold but a snowfall like this is still an exception, so much so that some local business have photos on the wall of the last big one back in January 2010.

The region has just been through another dry winter and, despite de cold and occasional ground fog, rain has been sparse so news of the freak snowfall spread with the speed of tweets and the opportunity of catching a glimpse first hand got many on the road heading uphill in to the nearby mountains. Snow ploughs had been frantically working around the clock to connect isolated villages and they weren’t just clearing snow. Strong winds had uprooted trees, thorn off branches cutting off the electricity supply to many parts including Prades.

In Prades there was no coffee, no hot food to be had, just cold drinks and wine. The local shop had a queue as all was added by hand and the petrol pump was out of service.

I headed on to Vilanova de Prades, which lies a 15 minutes drive further afield.  For someone like me who has barely seen snow in more than thirty years the scenery was breathtaking. Steep canyons give way to think forest of pine, mediterranean oaks and clearings with almond trees in flower all emerging from a ground covered in thick powdery snow and every so often a tiny hamlet reminds you where you are.

My attempt of a walk was cut short by the arrival of a sleet storm. I headed back to the car and drove on heading to La Mussara, a spectacular lookout at the edge of a ridge. Halfway there my car was stopped by the police patrolling the Volta a Catalunya the road bicycle race held annually in Catalonia. Together with the Vuelta a España and the Tour of the Basque Country, the Volta a Catalunya is one of three World Tour stage races in Spain and neither storm or snow can get in its way.

After waiting for nearly one hour the Volta was announced by megaphones, sirens and an entourage of cars covered in logos; the Volta, almost surreal, zoomed by and disappeared in to the distance; the mountains of Prades fell silent again.

My last stop was at the ruins of La Mussara, defined by a few jagged walls and a broken up church looking in to the infinity below.

From the edge of  universe the old dogma still holds that the world is not round but flat with snow falling off its edge.

[widgetkit id=”81″]

[widgetkit id=”84″ name=”Beyond Tarragona”]