Bucharest in the snow, still on the move

This weekend saw Bucharest and several other counties in Romania blanketed with snow. What started out with a fairly peaceful snowfall on Friday turned into an orange alert for heavy snow and gusty winds by mid-Saturday, which is the last thing you want to hear when you’re supposed to get on a plane and take off the next day. Stranded motorists and isolated villages were taking over TV channels, there was talk of cancelling school for the next couple of weekdays, and delays and cancellations at the airport. Below is a mobile photo essay of my brief rendez-vous with snow this week.

Friday morning, a manageable and welcomed scenery change:

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Saturday morning, the city woke up to something a bit more troublesome:

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Trains and flights were delayed, people started to get stuck on motorways, and by the evening over 20 national roads were shut and the army was sent out to help people in isolated places.

My local park looked beautiful on Saturday evening:

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I went to sleep not knowing if my flight was going to take off the next day. Saturday saw a handful of cancellations, but the majority of flights came in and out alright albeit with some delays. The orange alert was still on and we were being advised not to leave the house unless it was an emergency, with high speed winds and snowfall still forecast for the next 24 hours.

Sunday morning I woke up to see the roads outside my flat in a worse condition than the previous day, though still ok to drive. I was set to get to the airport and see what was going on. These were the weather conditions at around 10:30am:

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We drove past several cars that were blocked in, and people were walking on the road because pedestrian areas looked like this:

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I hope the owner of this car has a shovel:

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We got to Henri Coandă International Airport (Otopeni/OTP) in about 45 minutes, which is the time it normally takes at rush hour with heavy and congested traffic. Our average speed was around 20km/h. Not many cars on the road, though public transport was out and about with trams, buses and trolley-buses still getting people to where they needed to be despite the terrible conditions and orange alert – now changed to red in a number of counties, but not in Bucharest.

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At the airport most flights were on track, with only a few of them being delayed. My flight to London Gatwick was scheduled to depart on time, and shortly after I went through security we were informed of the gate number and airline crew staffed the gate as per usual. We left with a delay of 15 to 30 minutes tops, which I really don’t find to be a major inconvenience when the view out of the plane window looked like this:

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We landed safely at London Gatwick, so props to Bucharest for keeping public transport going and snow ploughs on the road wherever possible, and I am amazed my travel plans were not disrupted by this. I’m guessing it wasn’t “the wrong kind of snow”.

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