Abundant snowfall and strong blizzard paralyzed southeast Romania. Dramatic situation in the country, at the first onset of winter weather this year, caused by a snowstorm. Dozens of roads have been closed, many trains have been cancelled and many flights have been delayed. Emergency rescuers have been acting promptly to rescue sick people, pregnant women and drivers snowed in on the roads. A very special situation was registered in Bucharest. Wind gusts put down almost 200 poles and trees and more than 100 cars were destroyed, while side streets were impassable. Several localities in areas affected by the snowstorm were left without electricity and water.
Bucharest and 11 counties in southeast Romania were placed under a code orange weather alert for snowstorm until from Saturday until Sunday evening, while 12 other counties in southern, eastern and central Romania were placed under a code yellow weather alert.
In Bucharest and the counties placed under the code orange alert – Ilfov, Prahova, Buzau, Giurgiu, Ialomita, Calarasi, Braila, Vrancea, Galati, Tulcea and Constanta – wind gusts surpassed the speed of 70-80 kilometres per hour, snow piled up and visibility was very low, which prompted authorities to close several roads as well as all ports. Rail and air traffic were also disrupted.
In Bucharest, it started to snow in the early hours of Saturday evening. Streets were soon covered by snow. Snow-clearing vehicles had a hard time coping with the situation. Apart from snow, silver thaw also created problems for drivers.
Several trees were toppled by the blizzard, while a man was hospitalized after he lost control of his auto vehicle and crashed.
Bucharest, other eight counties under Code Yellow for blizzard, snowfall
The National Meteorology Administration (ANM) has updated on Sunday weather warnings and limited the Code Orange for blizzard and snowfall to eight counties in southeastern Romania, while for Bucharest and other eight counties in central, southern and eastern Romania having issued a Code Yellow.
According to meteorologists, on Sunday, from 12:00 am to 06:00 pm, the counties of Galati, Vrancea, Buzau, Braila, Ialomita, Calarasi, Constanta and Tulcea have remained under Code Orange for strong wind, moderate snowfall and blizzard. In these areas, the blizzard will temporarily have gusts that will exceed 70-80 kilometers per hour and will reduce visibility below 50 meters.
Also on Sunday, from 12:00 am to 06:00 pm, a Code Yellow for snowfall and strong winds has been issued for Bucharest and eight counties in central, southern and eastern Romania, that is Iasi, Vaslui, Neamt, Bacau, Covasna, Prahova, Ilfov and Giurgiu.
“Over the next days, temperature will continue to decrease so that the weather will become freezing in most of the country,” the ANM informed.
ISU Bucharest: 191 trees and lighting poles toppled, over 130 cars damaged
More than 130 cars were damaged and 191 trees and lighting poles were toppled by the blizzard, Bucharest-Ilfov Emergency Situations Inspectorate (ISU) spokesperson Daniel Vasile informed.
The spokesperson pointed out that 50 trees and lighting poles had fallen on streets or on top of auto vehicles by 5.30 a.m., and another 141 were toppled by 9 a.m. 132 auto vehicles were damaged.
Daniel Vasile warned that the number of uprooted trees could rise in the following hours, bearing in mind that snow makes them heavier.
ISU crews intervened in the early hours of Sunday in order to remove uprooted trees from Iancului Street, Drumul Taberei Street, Malcoci Street, Dezrobirii Street, Oltenitei Street, Constantin Brancoveanu Boulevard.
“Intervention teams answered the calls in the shortest of times, driving under safety conditions and at speeds adapted to road surface conditions. During the night, we were in permanent contact with local authorities in order to be aware of the situation on the ground,” ISU Bucharest spokesperson added.
Daniel Vasile also stated that around 7 a.m. ISU crews intervened on Fundeni Street, District 2, where an auto vehicle crashed into pole. The driver was injured and traffic was partially blocked.
ISU Bucharest-Ilfov registered 240 calls from 7 a.m. on Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday, compared to a normal average of 200-210 interventions.
No boulevard was blocked by snow on Sunday in Bucharest, but traffic was difficult on some streets. As a special measure, it was decided that ambulances should be accompanied by small snow-clearing vehicles, City Hall Spokesperson Alexandru Ichim stated.
He pointed out that the City Hall had received a weather warning for extreme weather phenomena in Bucharest, namely for snowstorm, and as a result took all measures in order to maintain boulevards open to traffic.
Transport Ministry orders closing of all roads with low visibility
On Sunday, Transport Minister Dan Costescu asked the National Roads and Highways Company (CNADNR) to close all roads with low visibility, and CFR Calatori to cancel trains if the situation calls for it.
At the meeting held by the Winter Cell set up at the Transport Ministry, the minister asked for traffic restrictions on all roads with low visibility. Likewise, CFR Calatori was asked to verify each train before departure in order to make sure its air conditioning system works and to cancel trains that might have problems, if the situation on the ground requires it.
A2 Highway and national roads in four counties, closed by blizzard
Authorities have decided to close several roads and national roads because of the blizzard, including the A2 Highway. Other national roads had already been closed on Sunday morning in southeast Romania. Authorities did not rule out closing other roads because snow-clearing vehicles were unable to handle the situation.
Blizzard piled up snow on the A1 Highway too, where traffic took place under winter conditions.
The situation was expected to remain unchanged until at least Sunday evening, CNADNR stated, despite the fact that the snow was being cleared, since blizzard renders traffic impossible on most of the roads in southeast Romania.
CFR Calatori: Over 20 trains cancelled because of snowstorm
Over 20 passenger trains were cancelled on Sunday, on routes to and from Bucharest, Constanta, Fetesti, Slobozia, Calarasi, Buzau, Tulcea, Medgidia, Alexandria and Rosiori, while trains that were already on route in southern and eastern regions registered delays that in some cases surpassed two hours.
According to CFR Calatori, rail traffic took place under winter conditions, against the backdrop of the snowstorm that hit southern and eastern Romania. Spare locomotives and supplementary vehicles for intervention were prepared in these regions.
Air traffic under winter conditions:Three flights canceled, takeoff delays of up to two hours on Bucharest International Airport Henri Coanda
Three flights – to Istanbul, Moscow and Milan – that were to take off on Sunday from Bucharest International Airport Henri Coanda have been canceled due to heavy snowfall and blizzard, with wind gusts exceeding 75 km per hour, the National Company Bucharest Airports (CNAB) has informed.
According to a CNAB press release, on Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport and on Bucharest Baneasa Aurel Vlaicu International Airport, air traffic was taking place under heavy snowfall and blizzard. Three flights have been canceled – to Istanbul, Milan and Moscow – whose passengers will be boarded this afternoon on other planes to the same destinations.
Also, some takeoffs may record delays of up to two hours caused by deicing the aircraft and ground handling operations made difficult by the adverse weather.
Bucharest’s airports are constantly snow-clearing operations. Real-time information about the situation of the flights on Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport can be found on the website www.bucharestairports.ro.
The Bucharest Airports National Company advised passengers to take appropriate measures in order to show up at the airport in time.
Education Ministry: School closed on Monday in Bucharest and nine counties
The Education Ministryannounced on Sunday that all schools and kindergartens will be closed in Bucharest and Ilfov, Ialomita, Calarasi, Tulcea, Calarasi, Braila, Buzau counties on Monday, while only some will be closed in Giurgiu and Dambovita counties. In the rest of the counties affected by the snowstorm, prefectural colleges will decide whether to take similar measures.
“As a result of the bad weather, the Bucharest Municipality’s School Inspectorate, and the Ilfov, Ialomita and Calarasi County School Inspectorate have decided, jointly with local authorities, to suspend classes in all schools on Monday, January 18. In the rest of the counties affected by abundant snowfalls and blizzard, decisions on whether to hold classes will be taken this afternoon, within prefectural colleges,” the Education Ministry informed in a communiqué on Sunday.
The aforementioned source pointed out that the decision on whether to close or not to close schools has to take into account the evolution of the weather and the safety of students and teachers, as well as the capacity to ensure appropriate conditions for the educational process.