Heavy snowfall from the Elpida storm disrupted air and road traffic in the Greek capital of Athens and on the Greek islands on Monday.
The snow came down thick and fast throughout the day in central Athens, settling on the marble columns of the ancient Acropolis. Greek authorities sent out emergency alerts to cell phones in the wider Athens area warning of severe snowfall.
Authorities also warned the public to limit outdoor movements to only essential ones on Monday and Tuesday, while schools in many areas were closed.
Snow chains were mandatory for cars on many roads, while trucks were banned from the main highway heading north from Athens.
Nevertheless, the icy conditions and lack of snow chains on some vehicles left traffic snarled for hours on many of the Greek capital’s roads, including a highway ring road and one of the main avenues in Athens. Several drivers reported being stuck in their cars for hours.
Climate Change and Civil Protection Minister, Christos Stylianides, apologised for the problems on the ring road, and said its private operators would be called to provide explanations. He added that efforts were being made to keep all major highways open.
Mr Stylianides also said only minor power supply problems had occurred, mostly on the island of Evia, and were expected to be resolved by later Monday.
Several domestic and international flights to Athens airport were cancelled, while subway service to the airport was partially suspended as some of it runs above ground.
The health ministry announced that COVID-19 vaccination centers in the wider Athens region and Evia would close early Monday and remain closed Tuesday.
Authorities expect the snowfall will persist on Tuesday and according to Ekathimerini, a public holiday is set to be declared for the country.
Snow is common in the Greek mountains and in northern Greece but is less frequent in central Athens and on Aegean islands.
Last year, the Greek capital was hit by a major snowstorm that caused severe problems, knocking out power for days in certain neighbourhoods and making all streets impassable without snow chains. Thousands of trees collapsed from the weight of the snow and ice.
Source: AP News.