Bulgaria has declared a state of emergency in the snow-hit Rhodope Mountains after conditions worsened in the regions of Smolyan and Kurdzhali.

Three skiers, all young Bulgarian men, died in an avalanche whilst apparently skiing off-piste in the Pirin Mountains, a range in southern Bulgaria, bordering Greece.

The avalanche risk remained high because of recent heavy snowfall.

The snowfall has brought down trees and cut the power supply to at least 800 settlements.

Although the storm has disintegrated, another 20cm of snow could still fall in the mountains of southern Bulgaria before the cloud finally breaks.

The rivers were rapidly rising, and with the snow already thawing, flooding would be the next problem.

In the capital, Sofia, it started snowing on Thursday morning and it hasn’t stopped since.

In the following days, the sun has not been seen, the breeze has been light and the temperature has hovered around zero. About 36cm of powder now lies on the ground, and finally, the snowfall has nearly stopped.

Snow has fallen extensively and heavily in the Dinaric Alps, over the Hungarian Plain, in the Carpathian Mountains, the Rhodope and Pindus ranges and especially in the Balkan mountains.

In the last two days in Mourgash, 1600m up in the hills, half a metre of snow has fallen.

It is now shrouded in freezing fog with a temperature of minus 7C and a snow depth of 80cm.

A major Mediterranean storm brought this snow to the Balkan Peninsula, and beyond. It also produced hurricane-like conditions over the Adriatic Sea for at least 48 hours.

In Italy, trees have been uprooted, three ships were blown onto the shore on the Dalmatian coast and at least two large lorries were overturned.

All roads from Croatia down to the coast were closed for a while in a blizzard, whilst rain caused flooding and landslides in Serbia.

Source: Al Jazeera