Weather ‘bomb’ hits

A powerful storm, which specialists described as a «meteorological bomb,» hit Greece yesterday, with hurricane-force winds, blizzards, low temperatures and heavy rains. The storm caused extensive disruption across the country, forcing schools in many northern provinces to close because of the snow, causing blackouts in Athens and on the Aegean islands of Lemnos and Andros, blocking roads and highways, canceling flights and keeping ships in port because of winds that registered up to 12 on the Beaufort scale. Such Force-12 hurricanes, with winds exceeding 116 kilometers per hour (73 miles per hour), were recorded on Lemnos and Andros, which suffered extensive damage to their power networks. A state of emergency was declared on Lemnos, which was covered in snow, and where many roofs were torn off and trees uprooted. Waves tore apart a house on Chios and cast fishing boats onto land. Damage was reported also on the Cycladic islands of Naxos and Tinos. On many islands, homes were flooded. Mega Channel reported winds of over 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour) on Skyros in the central Aegean. A Liberian-flagged freighter, the Marilia, with a 26-member crew, was in trouble for several hours yesterday afternoon after its engines stopped, some 27 nautical miles off Naxos. But its crew managed to repair the problem and the ship continued on its way from the Black Sea to Suez with 33,000 tons of fertilizer. On Cyprus, 11 people were injured, either by trees falling on their cars or, in the case of four tourists, from shards of glass from a broken shop window in Limassol. In the town of Paphos, winds of over 140 kilometers per hour (87 miles per hour) knocked over TV antennae. The director of forecasts at Greece’s National Meteorological Service, Dimitris Ziakopoulos, said the storm was caused by an intense low pressure system. «The atmospheric pressure at the center of the barometric low, which caused the storm, dropped to 972 hPa (hectopascals or millibars), an exceptionally low figure for the country’s meteorological record. This explosive deepening of the barometric low, which is called a ‘meteorological bomb,’ caused the powerful winds,» he told Kathimerini. The weather is to improve today, with winds dropping to strong breezes (force 6) by tonight. Temperatures will remain very low through the weekend. Conditions will improve from Monday. Schools in parts of Greece will be closed today.

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