ATHENS -- The urgent meeting held on Friday at the civil defence headquarters, chaired by Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis and Deputy Civil Protection and Crises Management Minister Nikos Hardalias, ahead of the cold front expected to arrive in Greece at the weekend, was concluded on Friday.
The two ministers underlined the need for the country's muncipalities to have all means at their disposal and to work closely with the Hellenic Police and the fire brigade, which have already been placed on full alert, and to facilitate the unobstructed roll out of the vaccines against COVID-19 as much as possible.
The general secretariat for civil defence, meanwhile, urged the public to exercise caution and take measures to protect against the dangers posed by extreme weather phenomena, such as icy conditions, strong winds, snow and heavy rain.
Meanwhile, the managers of two major highways in central and southern Greece warned drivers on Friday of the snow and cold front "Medea", with tips for their safety.
Olympia Odos, managers of the Athens-Patras highway, and Moreas SA, managers of the Corinth-Tripolis-Kalamata-Sparta highway, said drivers should get updated weather reports before they set out and bring snow chains with them.
Among other precautions, it gave them tips for driving in the snow, avoiding unnecessary travel, and follow traffic police directions.
For emergencies, they said, drivers should call 1025 or 2710-562000.
Weather forecast: Rain and snowfall on Saturday
Rain, sleet, snowfall and winds from variable directions are forecast for Saturday. Wind velocity will reach 8 on the Beaufort scale. Snowfall in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from -04C to 05C. Rain in the western parts with snowfall in the mountainous and semi mountainous areas and temperatures between 05C to 16C.
Temperatures will be 5C to 6C lower in Epirus. Rain in and gradually sleet in the eastern parts. Snow will fall initially in the mountainous and semi mountainous areas and temperatures will range between 0C and 14C. Rain over the Aegean islands and Crete, 09C-18C. Rain in Athens, 09C-14C. Sleet in Thessaloniki, -01C-04C.
Arctic blast puts Europe's homeless, travelers in peril
Aid workers are warning that the sharp drop in temperatures across parts of northern Europe this month has put homeless people at serious risk.
German homeless aid group BAGW said Friday that four people have been found frozen to death since a blast of Arctic air brought freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall to much of the country last week.
Authorities in the southern city of Nuremberg said a homeless woman was found with a newborn baby in minus 15 Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures early Friday. A police patrol spotted the 20-year-old woman, a companion and the infant on a ventilation grate outside a subway station. Mother and child were taken to a hospital to warm up and for observation, the dpa news agency reported.
Icy temperatures have also led to numerous accidents on roads and waterways. Police in southwestern Germany said a 49-year-old man was crushed to death Thursday when the tractor he was driving slid and toppled over on an icy field.
In western France, freezing rains turned roads into chutes of treacherous ice. Authorities in Brittany said smaller roads that tie together towns and villages in the largely rural region were unusable. They urged people to stay home. Large trucks were banned from circulation.
The German Red Cross warned people to be careful when skating or walking on frozen lakes and rivers after several adults and children fell through the ice had to be rescued in recent days.
Andreas Paatz, the head of the group's water rescue service, said many people don't realize that ice on standing water needs to be at least 15 centimeters thick and on running water it needs to be 20 centimeters thick to support a person.
Authorities in northern Germany have for the first time in years deployed icebreakers to smash passages through frozen shipping canals.
In the neighboring Netherlands, skating fans flocked to the ice Friday, causing a headache for authorities trying to enforce social distancing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus
The cold weather that has gripped northern Europe is forecast to make its way toward the southeast in the coming days.