Big Freeze Warning for Istanbul and Europe

1 February 2012

Flight disruptions in Istanbul due to heavy snowfalls

Today, Tuesday, January 31st, transport disruptions are likely across Turkey and especially in Istanbul due to bad weather. According to meteorologists, heavy snowfalls will continue to affect the country at least until February 1st. Winter conditions, associated with blizzard, are likely to disrupt flights and road transports as they reduce visibility. Moreover, the cold front is forecast to hit the country’s capital Ankara in coming days causing more disruptions. Yesterday, some 200 flights were cancelled at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport due to blizzard. Turkey is currently experiencing the worst snowfall of the last 50 years.People travelling to or throughout Turkey are advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport. Authorities have issued a red alert in Istanbul due to the dangerous road conditions. Travellers are advised to avoid ground travel until the storm eases. Confirm all your travel arrangements and listen to all recommendations given by local authorities.

Big Freeze: Europe

SCATTERED snow showers and freezing temperatures could cause icy conditions on roads in parts of the UK, forecasters have warned. According to the UK press the Met Office has upgraded its cold weather alert to Level 3, stating that there was a 100% probability of "severe" conditions across most of England this week.

According to the Met Office temperatures will drop to as low as -6C on Wednesday and on Thursday, when daytime maximums will be no more than 3C. Severe weather warnings for ice were also issued for Monday night and Tuesday morning across eastern parts of England and Scotland, and Northern Ireland, south-west England and south Wales. A high pressure system hanging over Scandinavia and western Russia is pushing raw, easterly winds towards the UK, meaning this will be the longest spell of cold weather so far this winter, experts say.

Meanwhile heavy snow and a severe cold snap have killed at least 36 people across eastern Europe, with many areas under emergency measures as schools closed down, roads became impassable and power supplies were cut off. As temperatures dropped to around minus 20 degrees, authorities opened hundreds of emergency shelters across the region and urged people to be careful and to stay indoors. Police searched for homeless people to make sure they didn't freeze to death.

Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry said 18 people died of hypothermia and nearly 500 people sought medical help for frostbite and hypothermia in just three days last week. Twelve of the dead were homeless people whose bodies were discovered on the streets. Temperatures in parts of Ukraine plunged to minus 16 degrees during the day and minus 23 degrees during the night. Authorities opened 1500 shelters to provide food and heat and shut down schools and nurseries.

At least 10 people froze to death in Poland as the cold reached minus 26 degrees on Monday. In central Serbia, three people died and two more were missing and 14 municipalities were operating under emergency decrees. Efforts to clear roads of snow were hampered by strong winds and dozens of towns faced power outages. In Romania, local media reported four people had died due to the frigid weather. In neighbouring Bulgaria, a 57-year-old man froze to death in a northwestern village and emergency decrees were declared in 25 of the country's 28 districts. Strong winds also closed down Bulgaria's main Black Sea port of Varna.

In the Czech capital of Prague, city authorities worked to set up tents for an estimated 3000 homeless people. Freezing temperatures also damaged train tracks, slowing railway traffic.