Dangerous Cold Spell in Bulgaria: New “Code Orange” Weather Warning for Sofia

Written by on January 7, 2017 in Bulgaria, Latest - No comments

Exactly 73 days before the first day of spring, the situation was rather difficult in Bulgaria, where the population was confronted with excessive snowfall, extremely low temperatures and strong winds, all at once. The consequences of the rather extreme weather were driving bans, road closures, electricity outages and Christmas holiday extensions for schoolkids.

On a usual Saturday in January, lots of people would walk around on Vitosha Boulevard, Sofia’s main shopping street in the city center. Not today. Hardly anyone felt like being frozen stiff, at -14 degrees Centigrade, in the early afternoon.

The inhabitants of the capital were lucky on Friday, when they had a Code Yellow warning, while most of the country was on Code Orange. On Sunday, things will be the other way around. Code Orange weather warnings are in place for both the city and the region of Sofia, along with Pernik and Kyustendil. These places are in for truly freezing temperatures, at around -20 degrees, on Sunday morning. Some forecasters even predicted -26 degrees for Kyustendil. Code Orange means the weather is dangerous. People should stay indoors whenever possible, be vigilant and stay informed about developments. 

There was snow on the Black Sea beaches of Varna. Snow piled up on all vehicles parked in the entire country. There was snow in all parks, on all roofs, on all sidewalks, fields, trees and mountains. Hell, there was even snow on the snow.

On Saturday, the most severe weather hit north-eastern Bulgaria. Six areas were literally cut off from the rest of the country. In Turgovishte, Ruse, Silistra, Razgrad, Dobrich and Shumen, roads were closed. Several train connections were cancelled. Passengers had to be evacuated from a train in  Karageorgievo. There was no bus-traffic to and from north-eastern Bulgaria. The port of Varna was closed.

It is safe to say that Bulgaria was brought to its knees by the weather.

But neighbouring countries were definitely not better off. The Romanians were fighting too. Their A2 motorway from Bucharest to Konstanta, at the Black Sea, had to be closed for a while. Romania even shut down its nuclear power plant at Cernavoda because the snow caused problems. When online, that NPP, located close to the Danube river, provides a substantial part of the electricity Romania consumes.

In Poland, seven people froze to death on Friday. In Albania, countless villages were cut off, just like in Bulgaria. In Serbia, strong winds created walls of snow, which were two meters high, in some regions. Croatia was forced to shut down ferry connections to many islands.

The “Snowmageddon”, which my dear colleague at The Sofia Globe keeps on referring to, has advantages. Not just for skiers in Bansko, but for everyone. All of the white stuff and the cold makes us forget about things. Nobody is trying to find the answer to the question why the 10th anniversary of Bulgaria’s E.U. accession was not celebrated seven days ago. Oh, and the political chaos of 2016? All forgotten. At least for now. Thanks to the cold.

By Imanuel Marcus

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe.

Photo by I. Marcus.

 

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