Does It Snow In Spain?

Snow in the mountains outside of Grenada.
Snow in the mountains outside of Grenada.

Spain is located in Europe’s Iberian Peninsula. According to the Köppen climate classification system, with the exception of the Canary Islands, Spain has an incredible 13 climate zones. This number of climate zones places it in the top ten of the ranking of the most climatically diverse nations globally. However, on a general scale, Spain can be said to have five major climatic zones. These zones are the hot-summer Mediterranean climate, warm-summer Mediterranean climate, oceanic climate, warm-summer continental climate, and semiarid climate. The minor sub-zones include a humid subtropical climate, an alpine climate, a hot desert climate, and a subarctic climate.

Does it Snow in Spain? 

Yes, it can snow in Spain. The above information about the climatic zones debunks a common notion that Spain is a hot country with warm regions that never experience snow. In truth, Spain is a heightened plateau, which means that its winters can get extremely cold. During winter, any region with an elevation of at least 4,900 feet will most likely receive snow. In fact, some of its mountainous regions, especially the peaks in the Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees, are constantly blanketed by a layer of snow. In the country’s climatic zones, areas with an oceanic climate are the ones most frequented with snow during winter months. These regions include Navarre, Cantabria, Basque Country, Galicia, and Asturias. Other areas may also experience snow although these five are the most common.

Spain is unlike other countries of central and northern Europe owing to the fact that the country is relatively dry. Essentially, this means that snowfall is not constant and is usually accompanied by less precipitation. However, this does not mean that the snow is not as serious as in other countries that are wetter. In the past, Spain has endured snow in some parts that brought traffic and normal human activities to a standstill. Sometimes, the snow may or may not be accompanied by blizzards.

The Beast From the East 

Extreme snowing in major cities such as Barcelona is extremely rare owing to a number of things such as the urban heat island effect, which is common for major cities. This effect ensures that human activities keep the temperatures of an urban area considerably warmer than the surroundings that have not been habited. For this reason, Barcelona usually gets a few hours of snow during in winter that melts within 24 hours.

However, Barcelona and other parts of Spain were affected recently in February 2018 by a climate system that was dubbed "beast from the East," which originated from Siberia and affected most parts of Europe. In Barcelona, it covered major roads, which led to a disruption of traffic and other activities.

Extreme Snow in Spain During the Battle of Teruel

This battle was fought during the Spanish Civil War between 1937 and 1938. During this period, Spain endured one its coldest winters where the temperatures dropped to less than -20ºC during the winter. That winter represented one of the worst Spanish winters in the country’s history. Records state that the extreme cold actually caused the deaths of as many combatants as the combat itself claimed.


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