Greece thaws out as weather crisis starts to recede

Rising temperatures yesterday melted the thick snow that had blanketed much of the country over the weekend, opening up roads, though several villages remained cut off. A third day of snowfall hampered transport in many areas, including Athens. For much of the day, motorists in Attica were advised to circulate with anti-skid chains as snowfall was up to 15 centimeters thick in places. Still the traffic police recorded more than 200 road accidents since Sunday morning. Much of the road network had been cleared of snow by late yesterday but icy conditions made driving dangerous in parts. As for public transport, the metro and tram were operating as normal. Trolley buses were suspended and very few buses were serving Athens routes. The Athens-Kifissia urban electric railway (ISAP) started operating yesterday afternoon after tracks were cleared of snow. Athens International Airport managed to stay open but dozens of international and domestic flights were canceled due to poor visibility and an icy runway. Ferries, which had remained moored in ports over the weekend, started serving the Aegean yesterday afternoon. Dozens of villages remained cut off, particularly in the Peloponnese, in the Aegean and on Crete and Evia, with many suffering power cuts. Their situation is expected to improve today as rising temperatures melt residual snow. Still, schools in those areas, and in Attica, will remain closed again today. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the response by state services to the problems caused by the snowfall had been «satisfactory.» Some public transport services were suspended for safety reasons, Pavlopoulos said. Meanwhile, scientists put a positive spin on the weather problems, saying that the snowfall had boosted the country’s dwindling water reserves. «The snowfall of the past few days will boost Athens reserves by around 5 percent… and will make a big difference in the Cyclades which have a drought problem,» said Nikos Mamassis, a civil engineer at the National Technical University of Athens.