A light dusting of snowfall began on the evening of November 28 in Sofia, the first of the 2016/17 winter season, as every region of Bulgaria faced a “code yellow” potentially hazardous weather warning for snow and blizzards the following day.
The Bulgarian government said that 3120 snow-clearing machines were ready countrywide to deal with snowfall overnight and into November 29.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov had ordered regional governors to ensure national and municipal roads were cleaned, the government statement said.
Borissov, still in office after his resignation, pending the appointment of a caretaker government, has given instructions that he be informed immediately should the situation worsen because of weather conditions or any non-fulfilment by companies that have contracts with the state to clear snow.
Earlier on November 28, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova ordered the companies involved in cleaning the capital city ready to deploy specialist equipment for winter cleaning.
Priorites for clearing included streets and avenues where public transport runs, as well as potentially road stretches, steep slopes and bridges.
Sofia traffic police chief Tencho Tenev had informed Fandukova that additional teams of traffic police would be deployed to regulate traffic, the municipal press office said.
Arrangements had been made to receive homeless people in temporary accommodation in the capital. Two accommodation centres will be open continuously from December 1.
The weather forecast for Sofia for November 29 was for a minimum temperature of minus four degrees Celsius and a high of one degree C.
Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency responded to the “code yellow” warning for November 29, of heavy snowfalls and blizzards, by saying that motorists should not embark on road journeys unless their cars had winter tyres, properly-working batteries, antifreeze and windscreen washer fluid with antifreeze additives.
Motorists should drive at speeds suitable to winter conditions and not undertake any sharp manoeuvres, the road agency said.
It said that national roads had been treated with a solution of salt and other chemicals against icy conditions.
Some road sections may be temporarily closed for cleaning, the Road Infrastructure Agency said.
Snowfall was reported from Bulgaria’s winter resorts such as Bansko, while heavy snowfalls were reported on November 28 in Poland and Bulgaria’s northern neighbour Romania.
Sofia, November 29 2016: Photos, Clive Leviev-Sawyer