Road, rail and sea traffic in Bulgaria was disrupted on October 25 by heavy snowfall, rain and strong winds, while some areas were hit by powercuts.
Powerful winds and heavy snow brought down trees and branches, while torrential rains caused landslides in mountainous areas.
Some parts of the national road network were closed for snow-clearing. Trakiya Motorway was closed from about 10am to some time before 2pm as road cleaning machines went to work.
The Pass of the Republic was also closed for snow-clearing. There was reduced visibility in Shipka Pass because of heavy snow and strong winds.
Fallen trees and built-up snow impeded traffic in the Rhodopes.
Heavy rainfall interrupted rail traffic. The movement of trains was suspended between Dimitrovgrad North and Merichleri, and between Dimitrovgrad and Haskovo railway stations, while snowfall and strong wind led to an order to halt train traffic between Debelets and Plachkovtsi stations.
Electricity distribution company CEZ reported that damage to cables led to tens of thousands of customers being left without electricity.
The most-affected municipalities were Troyan and Samokov municipalities and the southern part of Sofia at the foot of Vitosha Mountain.
The Road Infrastructure Agency urged heavy goods vehicle and passenger car drivers to travel only if their vehicles were properly equipped for winter conditions, including with snow tyres. Motorists should drive at reasonable speeds and with caution, the agency said.
A Code Red weather warning, the highest level, was declared on October 25 for the regions of Bourgas, Yambol, Kurdzhali, Haskovo and Smolyan because of heavy rainfall and strong winds.
An overflowing river caused flooding in part of the centre of Haskovo.
In Bourgas, mayor Dimitar Nikolov declared a state of emergency on October 25 in the residential areas of Meden Rudnik, Akatsiite and Pobeda, the villages of Izvor and Marinka, as well as the Chernitsite villa zone and the Chengene Skele fishing village.
The Bourgas – Sozopol and the Bourgas – Izvor roads were closed to traffic.
In Bourgas, high waves swamped North Beach. The foreshores of Nessebur and Pomorie on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast were inundated, according to local media reports.
In Pomorie, a woman was injured by a falling tree.
Fifty people were evacuated from their houses in a suburb of Bourgas because of torrential rain and strong wind.
The ports of Varna and Bourgas were closed because of strong winds.
In Dobrich, municipal authorities urged people not to leave their homes without good reason.
In the Blagoevgrad area, the movement of heavy goods vehicles, of more than 12 tons, was suspended near the village of Gradevo because of a landslide.
In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, mayor Yordanka Fandukova ordered the deployment of snow-cleaning machines earlier in the morning to clear boulevards and other main streets.
The Bulgarian Red Cross Mountain Rescue Service said that there was snow cover on all the mountains in Bulgaria.
Visibility in the mountains was very limited. Snow cover in the mountain winter resort town of Pamporovo was up to 20cm, local media said.
Caretaker Interior Minister Yordan Bakalov and Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetozar Lazarov ordered an operational headquarters set up to co-ordinate the response of the ministry and local authorities to the difficult weather conditions.
The forecast for October 26 was for further rainfall in northern Bulgaria and more snow at high altitudes.
There will be significant rainfall in southern Bulgaria. Strong north-east winds would bring cold air across the Danubian Plain and eastern Bulgaria, forecasters said.
In most of Bulgaria, morning temperatures will be between two and seven degrees Celsius and in the souh-east and along the sea coast, up to 10 to 12 degrees.
There will be low visibility in the mountains. With forecasts of strong winds, blizzards were likely in mountain passes, according to weather forecasters. Heavy rain and stormy winds were expected in the central and eastern parts of the country.
(Photo: Michael Hornak)