Severe weather brings snow to Athens, Greek Islands | world news


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A severe weather front has hit Greece, with sub-zero temperatures and snowfall in many parts of the country, including the capital Athens and many Aegean islands.

Authorities warned the public to limit outdoor travel to essentials on Monday and Tuesday, while schools in many areas were closed. Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said more than 46,000 school classes across the country were taking place online.

Snow was falling thick and fast in central Athens, settling on the marble columns of the ancient Acropolis. Authorities sent emergency alerts to cellphones in the wider Athens area on Monday morning, warning of heavy snowfall over the next few hours and calling on people to avoid unnecessary movement. Snow chains were compulsory for cars in some parts of the northern outskirts of the capital and trucks were banned from traffic.

The Ministry of Health announced that COVID-19 vaccination centers in the wider Athens region of Attica and on the neighboring island of Evia would close at 3 p.m. on Monday and remain closed on Tuesday due to heavy snowfall. The appointments that had been set for Monday afternoon and Tuesday will be postponed.

Oikonomou said conditions would continue to be “difficult” on Tuesday. Civil protection authorities have set up coordination centers with the participation of firefighters, police, armed forces and local authorities to deal with any potential problems, he said.

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Snow is common in the Greek mountains and in the northern part of the country, but it is rarer in central Athens and on the Aegean islands. Last year the Greek capital was hit by a major snowstorm which caused serious problems, knocking out electricity for days in some areas and making all streets impassable without snow chains. Thousands of trees buckled and fell under the weight of the snow.

In neighboring Albania to the north, all elementary and secondary schools closed for three days this week due to cold weather. Authorities advised people to avoid driving as freezing temperatures hit across the country.

Temperatures reached -17 C (about 1 F) in eastern Albania, isolating some areas and causing problems with electricity and water supplies. Many rural roads were blocked.

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