Temperatures plunged by roughly 10 degrees centigrade as the cold front “Oceanis” settled over Greece on Saturday, bringing bad weather that has disrupted both road and sea transport.
Gale force winds of 8-9 Beaufort, with gusts reaching up to 10 on the Beaufort scale, have led to the cancellation of all scheduled ferry departures from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio on Saturday afternoon, as well as hydrofoil ferries to the Saronic Gulf ports. Also closed are the Rio-Antirrio, Kyllini-Kefallonia and Kyllini-Zakynthos ferry links.
A scheduled journey from Volos to the Sporades islands in the Aegean was cancelled on Saturday and the Keramoti-Kavala-Thassos, Alexandroupolis-Samothrace ferry lines were closed.
Passengers planning to travel by ferry on Saturday are advised to contact the local port authorities or travel agencies before setting off.
The bad weather also affected road transport in northern Greece, where authorities have barred vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes from using the Egnatia Highway between the Komotini junction and the Vafeika, Xanthi junction due to the very strong winds in Rodopi and Xanthi. Large vehicles were diverted to the Komotini-Porto Lagos-Xanthi national road while snow chains are needed in several parts of the road network.
The island of Samothrace was especially hard hit, according to the local mayor, who said that snow had settled throughout the island and had exceeded one metre in depth in Chora, the main town, and other areas, while the entire road network was closed. Machinery obtained to keep roads clear, he said, had been forced to stop working by a blizzard that reduced visibility and made working dangerous. The island is still in a state of emergency following a recent extreme weather phenomenon.
Authorities in Thessaloniki, meanwhile, are on standby and spreading salt and using snow ploughs to keep roads clear and deal with problems expected due to the snow that started falling in the area early on Saturday. Central Thessaloniki roads remained opened but problems were reported in the city’s suburbs and some areas were without power in the morning.
After problems earlier on Saturday, the city’s bus company OASTh reported that all bus services were now running normally, though with some delay due to heavy traffic.
Heavy snow up to 20 cm deep was also reported in areas of Trikala, Karditsa and Larisa, though main roads remain open so far. Motorists using rural roads in those areas may need snow chains.
Snow started falling in Thessaloniki early on Saturday. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Achilleas Pagourtzis)
Snow and low temperatures were also reported in the Region of Western Macedonia, with snow chains necessary in some parts of the road network, while some roads were closed.
Four flights scheduled to arrive at Thessaloniki’s ‘Macedonia’ airport were cancelled on Saturday because they were unable to land due to strong winds and low visibility. These included three international flights – from Larnaca, Nuremberg and Berlin – and one from Athens. Due to the cancellation of the Athens-Thessaloniki flight, the return flight from Thessaloniki to Athens was also cancelled.
Also cancelled were flights to Kalamata, Samos and Skyros that are carried out with small aircraft.
The phenomena did not reach the Greek capital until late on Saturday, when Parnitha Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic after the cable car station due to snow.