Heavy snowfall threatens crops

In an abrupt flip of the weather that is expected to cause severe damage to crops throughout northern Greece, heavy snow fell in most parts of Thrace, Macedonia and Epirus yesterday, as well as on the hills overlooking northwestern Athens. Much of Thessaloniki was covered in snow, while heavy snowfall in western Macedonia forced regional authorities to close schools for the day. Vehicles had to use snow chains on mountain roads across northern Greece. The sudden freeze – with temperatures falling to -4 degrees Celsius (25 Fahrenheit) in Epirus – came as fruit trees were in bloom and the first crop was starting to take shape following the warmth of the past few weeks. Officials fear that, if temperatures remain below freezing for long, much of the crop could be destroyed by frost. The coldest April of the past 40 years was in 1997, while snow also fell in central and northern Greece in April 2001. The weather is expected to grow warmer today, but rain is forecast for the next few days.