Serbia and Balkans Coated in Snow, Slowing Holiday Travel

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On Sunday, heavy snowfall in the Balkans coated most of Serbia and Albania. The unprecedented snowfall is just the latest bizarre weather occurrence in Europe during 2021. Heavy snowbanks slowed public transportation Sunday and snarled traffic as people traveled for the holidays.

Serbia’s largest airport in Belgrade ground to a halt Sunday afternoon. Flights to and from the airport were grounded, and sections of the airport lost power as heavy snowfall severed power lines. Visitors hoping to travel to see family were left stranded in the airport terminals, eagerly awaiting news from the authorities. Dozens of buildings have been damaged in Belgrade alone, and the snow hasn’t stopped falling yet.

Power Outages Grip Serbia 

Most of Western Serbia was without electricity Sunday afternoon. Authorities in the Balkans implored residents to conserve power as snowfall pulled power lines down and blocked work crews from repairing the damage. Emergency workers asked Serbians to avoid traveling outside of emergencies as the ice and snow created hazardous road conditions.

Residents who own generators should only run gas-powered engines outside, at least two meters from any residence. Likewise, authorities urge citizens to conserve petrol, as it’s time-consuming to clear snow from roadways.

Chaos in Belgrade

Dense precipitation damaged vehicles and buildings throughout Belgrade. Snowfall blocked traffic around the airport, resulting in lengthy traffic jams Sunday afternoon. Some passengers on a public train were stuck for seven hours due to a snowy blockage on the train tracks. Belgrade authorities dispatched a city bus to rescue the travelers, transporting them to the capital during the unprecedented snowstorm.

Emergency crews from surrounding cities have poured into Belgrade to help clear the snow and rescue trapped citizens. People in Serbia are encouraged to keep their radios on to listen for official updates from authorities. Rescue teams equipped with trucks and searchlights are scouring the region Monday morning.

Flooding in Bulgaria

Further south, the same weather front is causing torrential rainfall in Bulgaria. Bulgarian authorities have issued a state of emergency as rivers in the southern part of the country jump their banks and wash away entire homes. Dozens of villages in the region are currently without power due to strong winds.

Near the border with Greece, landslides have swept vehicles away and blocked roadways. Some Bulgarian citizens reportedly spent Sunday night on the roofs of their homes to avoid the rising floodwaters. Authorities in helicopters have begun rescue efforts in the devastated region, pulling citizens to safety.