Heavy snowfall which has made driving conditions very hazardous led Greek authorities on Monday morning to close the Athens-Thessaloniki highway just north of the Greek capital.
The northern suburbs of Athens, particularly Drosia, Dionysus, and Agios Stefanos, have already recorded heavy snowfall, creating many problems on the roads, some of which are closed to traffic.
Athens looks pretty good with some snow!
— Evan Levine (@LevineRx) February 15, 2021
Authorities appealed to the public to restrict their movements outside to the essential only, as temperatures plunged to minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in parts of northern Greece.
As the severe winter weather reached Attica, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis promised on Sunday that roads will remain open.
“Our goal is for the roads to stay open,” Chrisochoidis stated at the time.
“I want to send a message to all the residents of Attica, Evia and the surrounding region. We will be tested in the coming hours but the mechanism is extremely efficient,” he declared.
Chrisochoidis said that the entire state system for dealing with such winter emergencies worked flawlessly in northern Greece, where the conditions were in some cases extreme, while it will remain on full alert at all times until the bad weather has passed.
“There is vigilance at Civil Protection from minute to minute to deal with any phenomenon,” he added.
Lowest temperatures reach minus 20 degrees
The cold front, which has blanketed much of northern Greece in snow, originated as cold masses of air that hovered over Central and Northern Europe in the last week.
Heavy snowfall was predicted for central, southern and eastern Greece over the next day, including in the Greek capital and on the southern island of Crete.
According to Athens National Observatory’s weather service meteo.gr, the lowest temperatures recorded were -19.9 C at Mesovouno in Kozani, -17.1 C in Neos Kafkasos at Florina, -15.9 C in Kilada in the region of Kozani, -14.4 C at Vounassa, Grevena, -14.2 C in Terpyllos of Kilkis and -13.7 C in the city of Florina.
The weather forecast for Attica is cloudy with intermittent snow and temperatures between 0C and 4C. Cloudy and very cold in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from -6C to 0C.
Gale force winds are blowing at sea, with the strongest wind gust of 118km/h (73 miles per hour) recorded in Paximada Karystou, on the island of Evia.
While snow is common in Greece’s north and its mountains during the winter, it is infrequent on the islands and in the center of the capital city itself.
The cold weather comes as a surprise after the country faced a period of warm, spring-like days, part of a weather phenomenon called “Halcyon Days.”