Snowfall expected to continue Monday, as road crews remain on standby in Greece
Phenomena accompanying 'Barbara', as the snowstarm is dubbed, have shut down sections of the national highway from Lamia to Athens, and brought out heavy machinery on roads to remove snow and sprinkle salt in hopes of keeping the main road arteries of Greece operational.
Some national highway sections that were shut to traffic were reopened in the evening, although most transportation networks were expected to see worsening snow overnight.
In Thessaloniki, over 150 heavy trucks from abroad have been immobilized because of the weather at the toll staions of Malgara after traffic police banned passage of heavy trucks on national highways. A traffic police spokesman for Nea Malgara station told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) that "traffic to Larissa is carrying on normally, but from Larissa onwards nothing is moving, neither truck nor car." Odos Egnatias management took a portable toilet and water to truck drivers since there is no station in the region that can serve them.
Additional cancellations on Monday include open markets, court trials in several cities including Athens, Piraeus, Thebes, Livadia and Chalkida, while train schedules 62 & 63 on the Athens-Thessaloniki line were also suspended.
Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator said it was on alert for power cuts due to the weather, and had placed over 150 people on call on Evia island, hard hit by snow, and in Attica it had over 800 staff on call with special machinery and power generators among others, in addition to crews to handle trees that may fall on power lines.
Attica Region head of metropolitan infrastructure Panagiotis Kariotis told ANA-MPA there are 117 heavy machines, of which 58 are large snow plows with blades and salt-scatterer and 22 smaller ones, along with cranes and 4x4 cars to help people trapped in cars on roads and for possible transport to hospitals.
The region has a reserve of 5,000 tons of salt for immediate use and another backup of 3,000 tons, although salt has been spread on central and northern road networks such as Kifissias, Messoghion and Katechaki, and will repeat it.
In Attica, traffic police has said drivers moving in the entire road network of the Attica prefecture must carry snow chains or other non-slip equipment. It also banned heavy trucks of over 3.5 tons from several highways. Authorities have banned such trucks from sections of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road as well.
Police banned traffic in Athens suburbs on Sunday noon: Anastasseos street in Papagos, from its junction with Anatolis street, and in the direction towards Mt. Hymettus, and on Ethnikis Antistasseos street in Kessariani, from Katechaki avenue, heading towards Mt. Hymettus.
Attica traffic police has shut down traffic on the following streets as well: the ring road of Penteli-Nea Makri (from Military Hospital of Penteli 414 to Agios Petros), the old National Elefsina-Thebes Road in both directions (from the gas station Revoil - formerly Cyclon - to the boundary between the regions of Attica and Viotia (Boeotia), the rural road of Tatoi-Agiou Merkouriou (from the junction with Chlois Street at the former royal estates to Varibobi), in both directions, and the rural road of Malakassa-Agiou Merkouriou (at the junction with Tyrteou Street in Afidnes), in the direction heading to Agios Merkourios.
In addition, 10 base stations have been set up in central spots north of the Attica region for emergencies. Patrols are also taking place by the Fire Brigade, the Hellenic Police, the Armed Forces and others, including vans by the army and police to help people with mobility issues and renal patients if need arises.
Ship schedules have been suspended at the ports of Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio because of the high-velocity winds that in parts of the seas have registered 9 on the Beaufort scale. The strong gale winds have also forced the suspension of the schedules Kyllini-Zakinthos (Western Greece, Ionian islands) and Arkitsa-Edipsos (Evia).
Most of the problems in Central Greece are registered in Central Evia and the Mt. Dirfys area in particular. "We are fully prepared, people and machinery are ready, and we are not facing particular issues right now," Deputy Regional Director Giorgos Kelaiditis told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA). "Everyone is on red alert," he added.
In the Fthiotida region of Central Greece, heavy machinery is dealing with icy conditions on roads from Lamia to Domokos, to Amfissa, and to Karpenissi. "It was an intense night due to icy conditions, but weather phenomena are becoming more intense as of early this morning, yet we are not having problems," Deputy Regional Director Elias Sanidas told ANA-MPA on Sunday morning. The national road is not presenting problems, he added.
In Magnissia prefecture - which includes Volos, Mt. Pelion and the Sporades islands - snow removal machines operated throughout the night, while heavy snow intensified early on Sunday morning on Pilio and Skopelos island, and Skiathos island registered 3C (37.4F).
Deputy Regional Director Dorothea Kolyndrini told ANA-MPA that "snowfall is very heavy throughout Magnissia" and said the region is using 72 snow-removal machines on the roads and spreading 1,650 tons of salt to break up the ice. "From the Volos ring road and up, everything is covered in white," she said. Volos is experiencing heavy snowfall and temperatures of 2C (35.6F). Police has banned travel without snow chains from the Volos suburbs and in the directin of Portaria and Chania.
In Central Macedonia, authorities were prepared and are not seeing great issues, Civil Protection head for the region Charalambos Stergiadis told ANA-MPA. The major Odos Egnatias, linking East-West Macedonia, is mostly open to traffice, authorities said. Strong winds and low temperatures have required snow chains on cars on sections of the old national road between Veria and Kozani and elsewhere, as is true of sections of Chalkidiki peninsula. The Fire Brigade reported 30 trees felled by strong winds in the region of Central Macedonia, based on the number of calls it has received.
In the Peloponnese, snow chains are required in sections of the Corinth prefecture (sections of the Xilokastro-Trikala national road), Messinia (sections of the Kalamata-Sparta national road).