This brings to eight the number of frost victims across the country. In Bucharest, thermometers dropped to -22 degrees Celsius yesterday morning, and the lowest temperatures in the country were registered at Intorsura Buzaului: -29.3 degrees Celsius.
By Daniela Baragan
The extreme cold makes new victims in Romania. The Health Ministry (MS) yesterday announced that two more people died over the last 24 hours, which brings to eight the number of fatalities since Saturday. The two deaths occurred in the counties of Hunedoara and Galati. MS officials also said that 275 homeless people were taken by Ambulance and SMURD services to medical units and social centers.
Another tragedy was barely avoided in Sarmas, Harghita County, where a 22 year old woman was taken to hospital in hypothermic shock, with both legs frozen, after she collapsed to the ground in a field, Mediafax informs. Initially she was taken to the local Police precinct, then an ambulance rushed her to the Toplita Municipal Hospital. Monday night, gendarmes took care of 16 homeless people across the county. In Harghita County, thermometers dropped to minus 24 degrees Celsius at Miercurea Ciuc, minus 22 degrees at Toplita and Odorheiu Secuiesc, and minus 20 degrees at Bucin.
The lowest temperature registered in Romania this winter so far was at Intorsura Buzaului (Covasna County), where thermometers plunged yesterday morning to minus 29.3 degrees Celsius in the air and minus 31.2 degrees in the soil, proving that the region did not earn its reputation of ‘Cold Pole’ for nothing. In fact, the whole Covasna County suffered from extreme cold, with minus 29 degrees Celsius reported at Comandau, minus 25 degrees at Sfantu Gheorghe, minus 24 at Baraolt and minus 23 at Targu Secuiesc. In January, the record of the region was registered in 1963 and 1990: minus 35.5 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature ever registered at Intorsura Buzaului was in February 2005, when the local weather station reported minus 36 degrees Celsius.
The frost also affected Maramures County: minus 30 degrees Celsius on Monday night. Locals however say they are used to such temperatures during winter.
Bucharest, too, froze Monday night, with -22 degrees Celsius being registered in the early hours of Tuesday at the Baneasa weather station and -16 degrees at Filaret. Because of the very low temperatures experienced these days, deputy mayor Victor Iovici ordered the winter command to go on session Tuesday evening. At Constanta, the water of the Black Sea froze near beaches, as experts say this is a rather infrequent phenomenon, given the salt content of the sea water. In the Tomis harbour, the ships at anchor were caught between blocks of ice.
And there is more bad news in store. According to the daily weather and environment quality forecast issued yesterday by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, quoted by libertatea.ro, between January 31, 9.00 AM and February 1, 9.00 AM weather will continue to be very cold in most regions of the country, especially at night and in the morning. Temperatures will reach highs of -13 to -3 degrees Celsius, higher in the west of the country, where they might climb to zero degrees, while lows will stay between -27 and -17 degrees Celsius, slightly higher in Banat, Crisana and at the seaside. Bucharest, too, should brace for another day of extreme cold, when thermometers will oscillate between a minimum -17 or -16 degrees, and a maximum of -8 degrees centigrade. Fog may appear towards the end of the interval, when a layer of frost will cover the ground.
Starting Thursday morning, snow will return to Romania, reaching Bucharest in the early hours of Friday, which also means temperature will go up 6-7 degrees Celsius in average.
While most of the country suffers under Arctic temperatures, spring seems to have come in Banat, where florists already sell newly blossomed snowdrops. This kind of flower usually blossoms early in March.
Nine national roads still closed
As if the problems caused by very low temperatures were not enough, the blizzard that had dramatic consequences last week has returned yesterday in areas of southern and eastern Romania, forcing authorities to close some road segments in the counties of Buzau, Tulcea and Vrancea. According to Antena 3, hundreds of people were blocked on National Road 23 between Focsani and Braila. Though it is not snowing now, the wind covered roads with so much snow already present on nearby fields that traffic was brought to a halt. Problems also begin to reappear on the A2 Motorway Bucharest-Constanta, where visibility is very poor because of the snow carried away by blizzard.
Natural gas consumption reaches historical peak
The secretary of state with the Ministry of Economy, Claudiu Saftie, said yesterday the situation regarding natural gas deliveries is under control, although due to the higher demand the pressure within the network has dropped significantly. “We have the necessary quantities for the next days, there is no need to call an emergency situation,” Stafie said. He also underlined the natural gas demand has peaked to a historical level, i.e. registering a 20 per cent increase.
Spring temperatures, as of February
In theory, at least, we only have to wait two more days until the extreme cold warning (orange code) will be lifted Friday, February 3, if it does not get extended. The experts of the European Weather Forecast Center, quoted by rtv.net, said that the monthly average air temperatures during February-April will range within the multi-annual monthly limits in most regions of the country. The only exceptions will be in February, when higher than normal temperatures might be registered in areas of the east, south-east and west of the country.