A Sunday in Bulgaria: Temperatures Down to -28 Degrees in the South-West

Written by on January 8, 2017 in Bulgaria, Latest - No comments

Update, Sunday 2:00 p.m.: All schools in Sofia closed on Monday and Tuesday.

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, people were trying to get through this winter while staying as warm as possible. The passengers of tram no. 23, who were hoping to be able to warm up on that tram, looked rather disappointed. The heating did not seem to work and it was still around -5 degrees in there. That was still better than the -15 degrees outside, but not really satisfactory. A young woman entered the tram, wearing a coat which looked much too thin for this kind of weather. She sat down and tried to move towards the heating as close as possible, hoping it would help. It didn’t.

Sofia’s most famous sightseeing object, the Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral, looked very different on Saturday. Its gold-plated dome and bell tower were not gold-plated anymore, but white. And not a single tourist bus was parked in front of the impressive structure. Well, who would want to be a tourist in this kind of weather? Besides, buses coming from Serbia would hardly have made it to Sofia, due to the road conditions between the Serbian town of Nis and Sofia.

Bulgaria, along with many other countries, was still under the grip of a dangerous Scandinavian cold spell. The latter was responsible for the coldest winter the Balkans region has seen in quite a while.

Today (Sunday), Code Yellow weather warnings were valid for most of Bulgaria. More serious Code Orange warnings were in place for the Sofia region, the city of Sofia, for Pernik and Kyustendil. In this south-western town, record temperatures of -28 degrees Centigrade were forecast, while Pernik and Sofia looked somewhat better, with -23 and -17 degrees, respectively, on Sunday morning. The cold came through the walls of apartment blocks and houses, it froze car batteries and water pipes.

It was extremely cold on tram no. 23 in Sofia. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

For tomorrow (Monday) a Code Yellow warning is in place for the entire country, due to the cold.

Yambol, in south-eastern Bulgaria, will supposedly be the warmest place in the country on Sunday, with temperatures ranging from -9 to -3 degrees. Along the Black Sea coast line, it would be milder towards the south (down to -11 degrees) and colder in the north (more like -15 degrees).

Since the new year started, three refugees froze to death on Bulgarian soil. One mountain climber was killed by an avalanche in Rila. Hundreds of villages in the eastern half of the country were without power, countless roads were closed. Restrictions applied for heavy trucks in the entire country, and for all vehicles on mountain passes.

Since, according to forecasters, the extreme cold will continue until Thursday, it remains to be seen what kind of decisions the Education Ministry in Sofia will take today. On the one hand, another country-wide extension of the Christmas holidays would be advisable, due to the extreme temperatures. On the other hand, school kids should get back into learning as soon as possible.

Things were difficult in all of Europe. At the Vatican, even the famous fountains were frozen. In Germany, people were asked to stay in their homes, because of the ice on streets and sidewalks. Moscow has not seen this kind of cold in 120 years. During the orthodox Christmas celebrations, -30 degrees were measured in the Russian capital. In the Swiss and Austrian Alps, the danger of avalanches was high. In several countries, refugees and homeless people froze to death.

By Imanuel Marcus

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe.

Photos by Imanuel Marcus.

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