Three people were killed on Tuesday as Greece was hit by more snow than in the previous 10 years as the Medea cold front gripped the Mediterranean country.
Temperatures reached as low as -19 degrees Celsius (-2.2 F) and parts of the capital city, Athens, were left without electricity as fallen trees cut power supplies.
“The last time we saw so much snow in the center of Athens was in February 2008,” meteorologist Costas Lagouvardos told AFP.
Greeks took to social media to post pictures and videos of the snow, a rare sight in the cities. Many ancient sites such as the Acropolis in Athens were also blanketed in snow.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged people to take “great care” after meeting with emergency workers.
“I think we will all show patience as we deal with a phenomenon that is truly unprecedented,” he said.
Snowfall causes havoc
Public broadcaster ERT TV said that two men died after their mechanical respiratory aids stopped working during one of the power cuts. A farmer also died on the island of Crete. He was found in a snow-covered area on his farm.
Greek Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis said they had been under particularly high demand in greater Athens.
“The calls mainly concerned downed trees and transporting people stuck in their vehicles to a safe place, but also to transport kidney dialysis patients to receive treatment,” he told state TV.
The disruption caused by the storm also put a temporary stop to coronavirus vaccinations in Athens.
“Vaccinations have been postponed, but we have helped transport doctors and medical staff where they are needed, and we helped power technicians get to damaged electricity pylons in areas where access was difficult,” Vathrakoyiannis said.
Athens and other parts of the country are in lockdown with schools and most stores closed. There is also a nightly curfew.
Cold snap makes its way across Europe
The cold front arrived in Greece after causing heavy snowfall in northern Europe. Turkey was also hit with blizzards and heavy snow on Tuesday.
The cold snap is expected to pass by Thursday with temperatures quickly rising to some 14 degrees Celsius.
Another usually warm Mediterranean country was battered by snow this winter. Storm Filomena was the worst winter storm to hit Spain in several decades.
The recent cold weather is likely caused by changes to the Arctic polar vortex.
ab/msh (AFP, AP)