With such an extreme amount of snow expected in Turkey and Georgia, avalanches are a real risk over next few days

The eastern Mediterranean is in for a rough ride over the next few days.

A low pressure over southern Turkey is forecast to linger over the area for the next four or five days. It will deepen as it does so, to give stronger winds and plenty of wet weather to the region.

Temperatures in the area are already well below average and are set to plunge even further. Istanbul will see temperatures struggle to just 5C on Tuesday and Ankara will not even get to freezing. The March average for both cities is actually 11C.

Heavy rain around the coast will give the risk of flooding and further inland, heavy snow will blanket much the country. Up to 70cm of snow is forecast for the mountains, which will give rise to the risk of avalanches.

It is not only Turkey which will see the icy blast. Greece and Georgia will also shiver in the unseasonal temperatures. Greece’s capital will see the temperatures drop to 5C on Tuesday, 11C below average, and it will feel even colder than that thanks to the heavy rain. Meanwhile Georgia will see a thick blanket of snow, potentially up to 90cm in the mountains.

As the snow starts to accumulate here, Italy is now seeing the snow ease. After a week of rain and snow, two avalanches have been reported in the last 24 hours. One hit Biella, near Milan, and claimed the lives of two skiers. The other avalanche happened in the East Dolomites, where one person is still missing.

Each year, avalanches claim more than 150 lives worldwide and this number has been increasing over the past few years. They can strike at any time, but there are factors which increase the risk. Obviously the weather is the most important factor. Ninety per cent of all avalanches happen during a snow storm and the 24 hours after a storm are also very critical.

Heavy fresh snow can cause problems if it does not bond properly to the existing layer, then can easily just slide off. Sometimes it can simply be the weight of new snow which can induce an avalanche, more than 30cm of fresh snow is very hazardous.

With such an extreme amount of snow expected in Turkey and Georgia, avalanches are a real risk over the next few days.

Source: Al Jazeera