Extreme weather conditions affected late last week Bucharest and 54 towns and villages in 20 Romanian counties
In many parts of Romania, people woke up on Friday morning in a
Nordic fairy tale. Freezing rain turned the entire landscape, including the
towns and cities, into crystal. Utterly spectacular pics poured into social
networks, but unfortunately the landscape was as dangerous as it was fascinating.
Freezing rain is a meteorological phenomenon occurring in winter months, but
rather infrequent in Romania. It happens when rain drops freeze almost
instantly if the temperature on the ground is below zero. A thin layer of ice
thus forms on streets, vegetation, cars, electricity poles and everything else.
At the end of last week, for 2 or 3 days, the counties in the south
of Romania were under code yellow and orange alerts for freezing rain.
Thousands of trees collapsed under the weight of the ice, and fell like bowling
pins, some of them torn from the very roots. In cities, including Bucharest,
many trees fell into the street and on hundreds of cars, causing substantial
damages. In the capital city alone, fire-fighters received ten times more calls
than usually and instead of enjoying a peaceful weekend every neighbourhood saw
special teams coming to collect the piles of fallen branches and trunks. Roads
became truly dangerous, both for cars and for pedestrians. Public
transportation was equally problematic, because the ice affected the electric
networks fuelling trams and trolleys.
The freezing rain also posed serious problems for air traffic:
air-planes were grounded for hours, as de-icing manoeuvres turned useless. Road
traffic was temporarily suspended on motorways, national and county roads, and
weight restrictions were introduced.
Road transport was also affected, and so were electricity lines,
with thousands of families left in the dark. According to the Interior
Ministry, beginning on Friday until Sunday, when 74 alerts and warnings were
issued, as many as 8,000 fire-fighters, police and gendarme troops were
deployed to field operations every day. Some of them were off duty this
weekend, but sacrificed their free time to help citizens. Freezing rain was
also accompanied by snowfalls and snowstorms, particularly in the mountains.
In the coming days, the weather will improve, so snow and ice will
no longer pose problems, but the risk of flooding, due to the snow melting,
will be very high. (Translated by AM Popescu, edited by D. Vijeu)