THE Madrid regional government has enacted an extreme cold alert as the capital braces for subzero temperatures through next week.
Low temperatures of -2C are expected Saturday night with a high of just 8C on Sunday, January 7, and lows as cold as -3C on Monday, January 8.
Highs are expected to remain below 10C through next weekend, with a low of -3C forecasted for Friday, January 12.
Spain’s national weather service, AEMET, predicts mostly dry conditions in the capital until midweek, with a 75% chance of snow on Wednesday, January 10.
On January 5 the Community of Madrid issued a Level 1 cold front alert, which is declared when minimum forecasted temperatures reach less than -2C.
Average January lows in Madrid hover around 2.6C, according to AEMET data.
To prevent exposure to extreme cold, the Madrid government recommends that residents maintain a source of indoor heat at all times, keep doors and windows tightly shut, and stay active as much as possible, as inactivity can contribute to low body temperatures.
Additionally, special precautions should be taken when using gas and wood stoves indoors to prevent house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Infants, pregnant women, people over the age of 65, and people suffering from chronic cardiovascular, respiratory or neurological diseases are most at risk from the effects of the extreme cold, reports the Health Ministry.
Homeless people and people in conditions of poverty without access to indoor heat are also particularly vulnerable.
“The most vulnerable population to the effects of the cold is, above all, homeless people and those who suffer from poverty or low economic status,” reads the Health Ministry website.
Extreme cold is known to weaken the body’s immune system, increasing vulnerability to contagions like the flu and COVID-19.
This week’s cold front comes amid a surge in respiratory illness — including COVID-19 — throughout Spain, putting pressure on public health infrastructure and urgent care centres. The rate of respiratory illness per 100,000 inhabitants stands at around 900.