Bulgarian authorities urged people to behave sensibly when attempting to travel on December 21, as continuing difficult weather conditions were set to complicate the expected pressure on the roads as people embarked on journeys ahead of the Festive Season.
A code yellow potentially dangerous weather warning was in effect in nine districts in Bulgaria on December 20.
A state of emergency remained in force in the Shoumen district and a number of municipalities in eastern Bulgaria, following the heavy snowfalls and strong winds that led on December 19 to a number of road closures and to vehicles being stuck in the snow.
Roads in the Shoumen and Varna areas remained closed, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said on the morning of December 20. So was a section of Hemus highway and the Bourgas to Karnobat section of the Trakiya highway.
Schools were closed in Varna, Razgrad and Dobrich.
Meanwhile, special arrangements were made to cope with the extra demand to travel ahead of the holidays.
Forty additional buses on various routes were scheduled to leave from Sofia’s central bus station on December 21 and 22. Police presence had been stepped up to ensure security and prevent theft of luggage, authorities said.
Traffic police were to be deployed at major intersections in Sofia to try to prevent traffic problems because of the extra buses.
Traffic police also would be checking cars leaving Sofia to see whether they were roadworthy and fitted with winter tyres. It was expected that on December 21, about 300 000 cars would be leaving the capital city.
Bulgarian state railways BDZ said that between December 21 and January 2, it was putting 14 700 extra seats on the 175 trains that would run on the busiest routes in the country.
On December 19, the state motor vehicle administration carried out intensive checks at bus stations across Bulgaria, inspecting the roadworthiness of buses and whether drivers were keeping to mandatory rest periods.
During the holiday period, a ban on the movement of vehicles of more than 10 tons will be in force.
Traffic police urged motorists to ensure that their cars were prepared for winter conditions, that fuel tanks were full, to drive with caution and to obey traffic laws.
Harsh winter weather also has hit Romania, by the evening of December 19 leaving several national roads and schools closed, more than 140 localities without electricity and more than 10 000 residents of five localities in Botosani County isolated for more than four days, local media said.
(Photo: Michael Hornak)