Weather turns wintry as Greece celebrates Epiphany

Hundreds of Greek Orthodox faithful gathered at ports around the country to celebrate Epiphany with the blessing of the waters, and many defied cold temperatures to dive into the sea and lakes to retrieve the cross, a ritual that marks the religious holiday.

The Greek Meteorological Service warned on Sunday that the cold snap is due to continue for the next few days, bringing snow to many parts of the country, rainstorms and gale-force winds, starting on Monday.

Macedonia and Thrace in the north will see temperatures dropping to -4 Celsius overnight, with snow falling on the mountains as well as parts of the coast. Daytime highs on Monday are not expected to exceed 6 Celsius.

The Ionian islands and western parts of the mainland will see heavy showers and strong winds at sea, while temperatures are forecast to range between -2 and 13 Celsius, while Thessaly, the eastern mainland, Evia and the eastern Peloponnese will see a morning cold snap with snow in the highlands turning to rain later in the day. Thessaly is also expected to experience some snowfall at lower altitudes overnight.

The islands and Crete will also have a mixture of snow on the highlands with sleet and rain falling at lower altitudes. Temperatures are forecast to range from 6-14 Celsius, though strong winds reaching 8 on the Beaufort scale will make it feel colder.

Attica will see local showers and snow on the mountains around mid-day, though dropping temperatures will mean more snow in the evening at altitudes as low as 500 meters. Temperatures are forecast to range between 3-11 Celsius in Athens and 2-3 degrees lower than that in northern parts.

Thessaloniki will see sleet mid-day and snow in the mountains coming down to altitudes of 200 meters, while temperatures will drop to 0 Celsius on strong northerly winds.