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Snow may return to Athens, Istanbul as cold air plunges in this weekend

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 21, 2019, 12:22:14 PM EST


Mild weather across southeastern Europe will not last beyond late this week as a major blast of cold air is set to arrive by this weekend and bring the risk for snowfall with it.

The cold air and snow will come as a shock to many following a very mild February across the region.

Temperatures for the month of February have averaged 2-4 degrees Celsius (3-7 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal across much of southeastern Europe and western Turkey.

Greece Feb 21


High temperatures on Friday will climb to around 16 C (60 F) in Athens and struggle to reach 7 C (45 F) by Sunday.

While snow is likely to fall and accumulate in the mountains north and west of Athens, the city itself can expect rain on Saturday to mix with snow or even change to a period of snow Saturday night before a continued mix of rain and snow falls through the end of the weekend.

“A brief coating of snow is possible, mainly on non-paved surfaces and at night,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

In Thessaloniki, rain Saturday morning will mix with and change to a period of snow Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening and may accumulate a coating to 2 cm (1 inch).

Farther east, snow will be a threat in southeastern Bulgaria and northwestern Turkey.

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A period of snow will whiten southeastern Bulgaria, including Burgas, from Friday night into Saturday morning, with generally a coating to 5 cm (2 inches) expected.

"Due to the recent warmth, the snow in Burgas and surrounding areas can initially melt on roads and sidewalks," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. "However, as temperatures plummet at night, any wet or slushy areas can turn slippery."

Snow will be more widespread and prolonged across northwestern Turkey.

"In Istanbul, milder air from the Black Sea should limit snow accumulations in the city," Pydynowski said. "A heavier snow shower causing grassy surfaces to turn white cannot be ruled out."

It will be a different story in the hills surrounding the city, where 15-30 cm (6-12 inches) can make for difficult travel this weekend.

In the hardest-hit areas in the mountains of Greece and northwestern Turkey, more than 30 cm (12 inches) of snow is possible by the end of the day on Sunday.

"Even though snow accumulations may be limited in Istanbul, it will feel like the dead of winter to residents," according to Pydynowski. "Due to the gusty winds and colder air, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will range from 2 below zero to 7 below zero C (20s F) this weekend."

Download the free AccuWeather app to find out if snow is expected in your community.

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