Snowploughs out, traffic congested as snow hits Bulgaria
Snowploughs were out on the streets of Bulgarian capital city Sofia on December 3 as the first major snowfall of the winter hit the country. Local media reported traffic was congested on several major thoroughfares in the country, including parts of the Trakia motorway that links Sofia to Bourgas on the Black Sea coast.
Some roads, including the Vladaya pass south of Sofia, were closed for heavy trucks, but overall the first snowfall did not present major problems, the Road Infrastructure Agency said. Drivers were advised to drive within the speed limits and using snow tyres.
Inside Sofia, public transportation was running no more than 15 minutes late, but several major thoroughfares were experiencing traffic congestion, news agency Focus reported. Snowploughs were expected to continue operations through the evening and the night.
Despite early warning of the incoming front before the weekend, many residents of Sofia waited until December 3 to switch to winter tyres, mediapool.bg said, reporting long queues at car service stations, in some cases reaching dozens of cars waiting to have their tyres changed.
Three fishermen, who likewise ignored the weather forecast, found themselves stranded on the rocks near Rezovo on the Black Sea coast, close to the border with Turkey. After several failed attempts by the border police to rescue them during the night, the fishermen were rescued on the morning of December 3 and were in no further danger, Bulgarian National Television reported.
The snow cover was at its thickest in mountainous areas, with winter resorts standing ready to take advantage of the dropping temperatures and blow artificial snow on the ski slopes if the snowfall abates. Bulgaria will officially open the skiing season on December 15, but the resorts stand to get good business before that, on the December 8 students’ holiday that many students traditionally spend outside cities, often heading to the mountain resorts.
Bulgaria’s national meteorological institute said that the snowfall was expected to stop at some point during the night. On December 4, temperature highs throughout the country were expected to be well above freezing point, but a weather warning concerning strong wind would remain in effect.
On December 5, the weather forecast is for rain (snow in Western Bulgaria), followed by another cold spell, but little precipitation.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)