Extreme Weather in Bulgaria: Four Dead, Forecasts Changed, Driving Bans

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

At least four people have died in Bulgaria, as a result of the freezing temperatures which have invaded the country by now, and the snowfall. In the Rila mountains, rescuers tried to save a hiker’s life. He had been caught in an avalanche. When the Bulgarian Red Cross Mountain Rescue Service found him, he had a weak pulse. Shortly after, he died. The helpers were alarmed by the victim’s brother, who had managed to escape the avalanche.

Two Iraqi men were found dead near the village of Izvor, located in the Burgas region. They had frozen to death, just like a Somali lady, two days before, in southern Bulgaria. At this stage, refugees are the most vulnerable people in Bulgaria.

On Friday night, freezing temperatures kicked in. In Sofia, it felt like they were slumping by the hour. Far less inhabitants were seen walking the streets, while there was the usual amount of traffic. In spite of the snow and the cold, the outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev took part in the traditional blessing of the flags of the Bulgarian military, an outdoor event.

It might have been freezing cold and windy in the capital, but compared to other Bulgarian regions, the situation was good. 

In Silistra, Shoumen, Varna, Razgrad and Ruse, authorities imposed a complete driving ban valid for all vehicles, due to the excessive snowfall and strong winds. There were restrictions in other regions as well. Heavy trucks were banned on all national roads.

For today (Saturday), a Code Yellow warning for all of Bulgaria is in place, because of the extremely low temperatures. In some regions, they are Yambol, Burgas, Haskovo, Vidin, Dobrich, Kardzhali, Montana, Sliven, Varna and Vratsa, strong winds were another reason for the warning.

In the meantime, the temperatures forecast for Bulgaria were corrected upwards. Two days ago, the lowest temperature predicted hat been -28 degrees Centigrades. Now it is -21 degrees, in Kyustendil. Wednesday will supposedly be the coldest day, but that might change as well.

Because of the heavy snowfall in north-east of Bulgaria, roads had to be closed. This included parts of the Hemus and Trakiya Motorways. Most mountain passes were closed as well. Also there were power cuts. A large power distribution company announced, 550 villages were without electricity on January 6th, 2017.

At the airports in Bulgaria, weather-related delays started on Thursday evening. E.g. a Ryanair flight from Sofia to Berlin took off a few hours late, since the only runway had to be cleaned several times. The same applied to the de-icing procedure, which was repeated more than once too. Burgas Airport closed down for a while on Saturday, due to poor visibility. Trains to and from Ruse were also delayed.

In neighbouring countries, things were just as difficult. In Romania, almost 100 drivers got stuck in the snow and needed to be rescued. Forty train connections were cancelled on Friday. At Bucharest Airport, lots of flights never took off either.

By Imanuel Marcus

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe.

 

 

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