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Flash Flood Watch

Snow buries northern and eastern Turkey, forces hundreds of flight cancellations in Istanbul

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
January 03, 2016, 1:53:02 AM EST

A major winter storm will continue to unfold in eastern and northern Turkey into Saturday.

Erzurum, Van and surrounding areas in eastern Turkey have already seen significant snowfall with more expected before tapering off later Friday night into Saturday.

A persistent snow has already accumulated 15-30 cm (6-12 inches) in these cities with localized higher amounts. The surrounding mountains will have widespread totals in excess of 60 cm (24 inches).

Even outside the mountains heavy snow has already fallen in parts of eastern Turkey with more than 60 cm (24 inches) already on the ground in Mus.


Even areas south of the Southeastern Taurus mountains from Gaziantep to Batman have felt the power of this winter storm.

While snow has been generally light near Gaziantep, areas from Mardin to Batman have seen more than 15 cm (6 inches) of snow through midday Friday with more significant snow expected into Saturday morning.

The snow will cover roads, making travel hazardous and extremely difficult for motorists. Airline passengers should prepare for cancellations and are urged to consider alternate plans before the snow arrives.

On its twitter account late Thursday morning, Turkish Airlines announced that the weather in Istanbul was causing many of their flights to be canceled.

Snow will not be confined to eastern Turkey. As the cold air pours over the warmer waters of the Black Sea, bands of snow will stream into the Koroglu and Pontic mountains.

There will be significant accumulations by the end of the week in the mountains, with accumulating snow all the way down to coastal cities such as Samsun.

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Snow will also be in the air around Istanbul for the final days of 2015 and the start of 2016.

On Thursday and Thursday night, a band of heavier snow and squalls will set up across the city. Snow amounts will likely be on the order of 8 cm (3 inches) with higher amounts in the higher terrain and near the Black Sea. The more persistent the snow band is, the higher the snow totals will be.

Due to the recent warmth stored up in roads, lighter snow will mainly accumulate on grassy and elevated surfaces around Istanbul. However, roads could become covered and slick for a time in any heavier bursts of snow.

“During these snow squalls, travel will be difficult and motorists should expect delays,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards said.

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While Thursday will be the day most active day for snow squalls in Istanbul, snow is still possible on Friday with some squalls in the morning before they shift eastward toward Karasu and Eregli in the afternoon.

Unseasonably cold air from eastern Europe will set the stage for snow across eastern and northern Turkey. Temperatures later this week will be held 6-10 degrees Celsius (10-20 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal.

The air will feel even colder around Istanbul as a gusty wind blows.

Another storm will target Turkey with unsettled weather early next week. It will bring rain to lower elevations. In general, snowfall will be limited to higher terrain as mild air will be in place.

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