Bulgaria’s Traffic Police have urged the public to avoid travelling between January 5 and 7 because of forecasts of heavy snow and very low temperatures expected before and at the weekend – when the barometer is expected to plummet to about minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Traffic Police chief Boiko Ranovski told public radio on January 3 that motorists should stay up-to-date about traffic and weather conditions.
If possible, motorists should avoid travelling on January 5 and 6 because of expected large snowfalls, while on January 7 and 8, temperatures were expected to drop to night-time lows averaging minus 20 degrees Celsius countrywide.
A national weather forecast predicted countrywide average temperatures to be a minimum minus 13 degrees Celsius on Saturday, rising to a maximum minus 10, while on Sunday, lows are expected to be minus 17 and highs minus nine degrees.
In Sofia, according to one forecast, Saturday would see a minimum minus 16 degrees and a high of minus 11, while another forecast put the minimum at minus 19, rising to minus 14.
Sunday’s weather in Bulgaria’s capital is forecast to see even more extreme weather – a low of minus 18 and a high of minus nine, while a separate forecast put the range for Sofia on Sunday as minus 22 to a high of minus 11.
Snowfalls are forecast for most of the country from Thursday to Sunday.
Restrictions on the roads banning the movement of vehicles of more than 12 tons will be in effect between 9am on January 5 and 9am on January 7. Road and other authorities will decide on the sections of roads where the restrictions will be in effect.
Responding to the forecasts for intense snowfall and the drastic cold snap from January 5 to 9, the Road Infrastructure Agency said that it was ready to cope.
Georgi Zlatev of the agency said that there were 3000 snow-clearing machines available countrywide. Roads would be cleared and would be driveable provided that motorists were prepared for winter conditions.
Traffic police head of enforcement Chief Inspector Rossen Rapchev issued an appeal to drivers of heavy goods vehicles: “When we stop the movement of heavy vehicles, it is not because of a whim of ours, it’s because it has to be possible for road cleaning machines to do their job. If a heavy vehicle enters and clogs a road section, it becomes impossible to have a path open for the cleaning machines”.
Motorists were urged to ensure that their cars were fitted with winter tyres in good condition, that their car batteries were in proper working order, that they had snow chains, shovels, gloves, reflective vests and tow ropes. Windscreen cleaning fluid should contain an anti-freeze element. Cars should have more fuel than was expected to be necessary for the journey.
The Traffic Police appeal came after serious disruption this past weekend in eastern Bulgaria, when blizzards and snowdrifts led to major traffic problems, while in the Bourgas region, part of the motorway was blocked overnight by a chain collision that left hundreds of people stranded in their cars.