Russia’s Crimean Bridge closed for first-ever time due to heavy snow and state of emergency declared
For the first time since its completion in 2018, Europe’s longest bridge has been closed due to a heavy snowfall. The Black Sea region is currently going through an uncharacteristic cold spell.
On Thursday night, Crimea saw a snowstorm cover the peninsula, prompting warnings from local authorities to refrain from travel. The bridge itself was shut due to “lack of visibility, heavy snowfall, and strong side winds.”
Construction of the Crimean Bridge started in 2016 and was completed two years later. The multibillion-dollar infrastructure project connects Taman in Krasnodar Region, on the Russian mainland, to Kerch in Crimea. As well as cars, the structure allows for trains to cross. At 19km, it is the longest bridge in Europe.
As of Friday afternoon, around 280 vehicles were stuck on the crossing, with many more in a traffic jam on either side of the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the neighbouring Krasnodar Region. Although it was initially shut in both directions, the traffic police have opened travel towards mainland Russia but won’t allow cars to pass over to the Black Sea peninsula.
According to Taman, the local highway management agency, traffic will be restored after the evacuation of vehicles damaged by the snowfall.
Southern Russia has seen uncharacteristically chilly temperatures in recent weeks. While Moscow is known for its cold winters, Crimea and other parts of the region are normally above zero in February. On Thursday, Kerch saw 27mm of snowfall overnight, almost reaching the month’s norm of 31mm in just one day. However, temperatures are expected to be positive next week.
On Friday afternoon, the peninsula’s authorities decided to declare a state of emergency in four areas.
Courtesy of rt.com
Snow blanketed parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel on Wednesday, covering areas it has not reached in years, disrupting traffic and postponing vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and even exams at some universities.
It snowed for the first time in years in Marjayoun in southern Lebanon, and in Bayda in northeast Libya.
Gale force winds knocked out electricity in vast parts of Lebanon, forcing many Lebanese, already used to power cuts, to rely on generators for longer hours. Rescuers pulled four motorists out of their snow-covered cars, the National News Agency said.
The first snow this winter in the Syrian capital, Damascus, did not prevent the Premier League soccer tournament from going ahead, as Army Sports Club and Al-Karamah faced off despite the snow that covered the pitch, the Syrian Al-Watan daily reported .
In the mountains of Syria’s Sweida province, snow was as high as 15 cm (6 inches), according to the official state news agency SANA. Roads in some provinces were blocked. In the central province of Hama, bulldozers shoveled snow to open roads while vehicles skidded on ice, causing traffic disruption.
The University of Damascus called off mid-term exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in all its branches around Syria because of the extreme weather conditions. The country’s ports remained open. Later, local authorities in the provinces of Sweida, Quneitra, Daraa and Tartous suspend school on Thursday due to the storm and heavy snowfall.
In the opposition-held northwestern Syria, civil defense teams have been building dirt mounds since Tuesday around camps for the displaced to prevent rain from flooding the crowded areas. Nearly 3 million displaced people live in northwestern Syria, mostly in tents and temporary shelters. Heavy rainfall last month damaged over 190 displacement sites, destroying and damaging over 10,000 tents.
In neighboring Lebanon, Storm Joyce hit late Tuesday with gale force winds registering between 85 km/h (52 miles/h) and 100 km/h (62 miles/h). The storm is expected to get stronger Thursday.
Breaking a warm spell, the storm brought heavy rainfall, a sharp drop in temperatures and the heaviest snow fall in Lebanon this year. Snow is expected to cover areas of altitudes as low as 400 meters, according to the meteorological department. Nearly a dozen roads in eastern and northern Lebanon were closed to traffic because of the snow. A beachside club and restaurant were submerged in water as waves nearly 4 meters (13 feet) high slammed onto the shore.
The Israeli Meteorological Service forecast heavy thunderstorms and cold temperatures across much of the country, with snowfall at higher altitudes expected later on Wednesday, including in Jerusalem. On Wednesday night, Israeli police closed the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem due to snow.
Heavy snowfall covered the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights near the border with Syria.
In Jordan, the COVID-19 vaccination drive was suspended due to severe weather conditions. Schools and universities also put off classes. Jordan’s Prime Minister Bishr al-Khasawneh announced that Thursday will be an official holiday for both the public and private sector due to the snow storm.
Osama al-Tarifi, director of the operating room of the Arabia Weather site, said snow has reached 20 cm (8 inches) in the mountains of Ajloun in northern Jordan, where snowfall has been non-stop since Tuesday night. Heavy snow is expected in the capital, Amman, on Wednesday.
Wind exceeded 100 km/hour (62 miles/h) in some areas in Jordan.
In Libya, snow blanketed the country’s northeast mountains as snowfall continued since Tuesday, covering forests and roads in some areas in the North African country.
Residents of the Jabal al-Akhdar area in the far northeast part of Libya took their children out for fun, some making snowmen and others starting snowball fights.
“I was surprised, actually, by the number of families who came here to take pictures to remember the snow,” said Ali al-Shairi, an amateur photographer from the eastern city of Bayda, which is known for recurrent snow in Libya but has not seen any for a couple of years.
In neighboring Egypt, heavy rain and windy weather prevailed on Wednesday and was expected to last into Thursday, the country’s meteorological agency said. Authorities in South Sinai province, which includes touristic hubs, canceled touristic activities, including safaris and cruises to weather the storm.
Courtesy of startribune.com
The snow storm “Medea,” which left Athens covered in snow Tuesday, passed through the city on Wednesday and is making its way toward Crete.
The winter storm has left over 40,000 homes in Attica, especially in Athens’ suburbs, without electricity for a second day.
After heavy snowfall and strong winds downed trees across the region, Attica’s power grids faced widespread damage.
Unable to fight the frigid temperatures by turning on their heaters, many people across the region, mainly in the northern suburbs of Athens, have faced a chilly blackout lasting for days.
Greece’s power grid operator, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator (HEDNO), announced that the regions of Dionysos, Anoixi, Ekali, and Agios Stefanos have been particularly affected.
Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister for Civil Protection, stated that the blackouts across Attica are expected to last until Wednesday evening as crews work tirelessly to restore power during the day.
Hardalias noted that HEDNO has led a massive effort to fix damaged power grids and restore electricity as quickly as possible, but faces extraordinary difficulties, since the storm impacted all of Greece:
“I want to make it clear that there has been an enormous effort made by HEDNO’s crews,” he stated.
“This is the first time that we have had a weather phenomenon impact all of Greece, as the snow storm did not just affect Attica.”
Anastasios Manos, CEO of HEDNO, highlighted that such a severe snow storm has not been seen in Attica for many years: “HEDNO found itself facing an unprecedented situation, one that has not recurred for decades.”
HEDNO has sent out over 600 teams of 1,500 workers to restore power to Greeks who have been left in the darkness.
In the northern suburbs of Athens alone, there are 400 crew members working on a 24-hour-basis to fix the area’s power grids.
Due to the severity of the situation, Greece’s military has also provided aid in removing downed trees that are blocking major roads and fixing damaged power grids.
Courtesy of greekreporter.com
A snow storm engulfed Lebanon on Wednesday along with heavy winds and torrential rainfalls, the National News Agency reported.
Temperatures on the coast reached 7 degrees Celsius compared to previous years when the average temperature did not drop below 11 degrees.
Abdel Rahman al-Zawawi, head of the weather department at Rafic Hariri International Airport, was quoted by Elnashra news website as saying that this is the coldest storm to hit Lebanon this year.
He also indicated that Thursday will be the coldest day of the year so far in Lebanon, with snow expected to fall at altitudes of less than 600 meters in some areas.
Also, the report said snow fell for the first time in years in some villages in Marjeyoun, southern Lebanon.
Civil Defense teams intervened in several areas of the country including Faqra and Kfardebian in Mount Lebanon to remove the snow and allow smooth transportation of citizens in the area.
Courtesy of xinhuanet.com
Heavy snowfalls have buried Moscow in massive snow piles, disrupting transport, delaying flights and making it tough to get around for pedestrians braving strong winds and temperatures of minus 15 Celsius (5 Fahrenheit).
The snowfall started late on Thursday and was expected to end on Sunday. Russia’s emergency service advised people to stay away from trees, warning of winds gusts of 18 metres per second (40 mph). “It’s a real snowstorm, a snow Armageddon, a snow apocalypse. This is not a practice alert, but a combat alert,” Evgeny Tishkovets from the weather service Fobos was quoted by RIA news agency as saying before the snowfall began.
By early Saturday, snow depth in the city reached 56 centimetres (22 inches), Fobos said. This was close to exceeding a record high of 60 cm for accumulated snow on a Feb. 13, it said.
On Friday Moscow saw record snowfall for a Feb. 12, breaking the previous record set for the date in 1973, Russian news agencies reported citing the national meteorological service.
There have been multiple flight delays at the airports in Moscow, a city of more than 12 million people. Unusually for a weekend, traffic was jammed in many places.
Around 60,000 people were working to clear the streets, the Moscow mayor’s office said.
Courtesy of reuters.com
Huge amounts of snow have fallen in parts of the Alps. Some people have been caught in avalanches, villages were cut off and more snow is on the way. There have been some large spontaneous avalanches. There are some excellent skiing conditions, but it’s highly dangerous off piste.
The fiercest storms started in the north and western Alps, in Switzerland and France.
Up to 2m has fallen at altitude in a few places.
There are some spontaneous avalanches happening.
Further east, Austria has also seen some heavy snow in the Tirol and Salzburg.
The new snow has been falling on the snowpack that has an extremely weak, and widespread, layer near the base of the snow.
The fresh snow is putting extra pressure on this already very weak snowpack.
The temperatures have been warm in the Alps and heavy rain has also fallen with flooding worries.
The Avalanche Death Toll in the Alps Continues to Climb and the latest incidents we have heard about come from Austria
Four people were killed in avalanches in the Tirol in Austria over the weekend.
Extreme caution is urged across many parts of the Alps.
It is one of the most dangerous periods in recent years across the Alps.
There have been 45 deaths so far this winter and that comes as many resorts are closed.
After easing on Sunday more snow is on the way, though not in such large amounts.
Here’s the scene in Val d’Isere, France, first thing on Monday morning.
30cm is forecast and the avalanche danger is at Level 4.
People in Val d’Isere are being asked to clear the snow from the roof of buildings as it could slide off and bury passing pedestrians.
And Val Thorens has been monitoring the snow levels over the past few days.
It was quite a storm last week with Level 5 avalanche danger in parts of France and Switzerland, plus Level 4 in some places in Austria.
Up to 2m fell in a few spots with many others having well over a metre.
Ski resorts remain open across Switzerland with some lift closures due to the snow levels.
In Switzerland for Monday there remains a ‘considerable’ risk of avalanche with Level 3 in many places and ‘high’ at Level 4 in some areas in the east of the country.
“The large amounts of fresh fallen snow and freshly generated snowdrifts from this last week are continuing to consolidate,” said the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Studies.
“Beneath the thick layers of fresh snow, particularly in the Valais and in Grisons, there are strikingly weak layers.
“Avalanches can be triggered in these layers by persons, as various large-spread avalanche releases of the last few days have amply demonstrated.”
There is now excellent levels of snow across many parts of the Alps with conditions above average for the time of year.
For an analysis we turn to Fraser Wilkin from weathertoski.co.uk
“Following last week’s wild weather, snow depths are now way above average across the north-western Alps (e.g. Tignes, Val Thorens, Chamonix, Verbier, Zermatt, Mürren, Engelberg, Laax), especially at altitude where three-day storm totals (between Wednesday and Saturday) were between 1m and 1.5m above 2200m, with even more in places.
“Indeed, all parts of the Alps currently have excellent snow cover, though we do appreciate that publicly accessible lift-served skiing is still only possible in Austria and Switzerland.
“If skiing in the Alps does become more accessible to greater numbers of people later on this season, even if that means skiing in the Alps beyond the “normal” season (i.e. later in spring or in summer) then there is plenty to be optimistic about, from a snow perspective at least.”
Courtesy of planetski.eu
A powerful stormed moved its way through Southern California and blanketed mountains with snow on Friday.
Big Bear got more than a foot of snow. The snow dumped within 24 hours is in addition to the two feet that fell on Monday.
It’s great news for skiers and snowboarders, and for local businesses. The economy there has been hit hard by the pandemic.
At Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs, about 18 to 24 inches of snow fell within 24 hours and the area was still seeing fresh snow Friday morning.
The mid-winter storm meant better conditions at Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, allowing them to open their east side resort for the first time this season. About 18 to 24 inches of snow was reported at Mountain High on Friday.
In Oak Glen, one of the burn areas, snow levels were dropping, which left minimal flooding. Flash floods were a concern in several burn areas in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Those planning a trip to the mountains will need chains on their vehicle.
Courtesy of abc7.com