Heavy snowfall paralyses white-coated Istanbul

Heavy snowfall paralyses white-coated Istanbul
Hundreds of flights were grounded and thousands of passengers were left stranded in Istanbul on Saturday as heavy snowfall covered the city in 25 inches of snow.
2 min read
08 January, 2017
The snow brought the city to a halt [Getty]

Life in Istanbul was left paralysed on Saturday after a heavy snowstorm forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights while the the Bosphorus was closed to shipping traffic.

Almost 65 centimetres (25 inches) of snow fell on parts of the Turkish metropolis overnight and during the day, causing havoc on roads as travellers sought to leave the city for the weekend.

Some 610 flights from the main Ataturk International Airport were grounded by flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), as well as others from Sabiha Gokcen airport, with the snow causing poor visibility and high winds.

Rival carrier Pegasus cancelled 192 flights out of Istanbul, while Turkish Airlines also cancelled 62 flights scheduled for Sunday.

Four THY intercontinental flights bound for Istanbul were diverted to the southern city of Gaziantep north of Syria, the Dogan news agency said, as some 76 incoming flights were diverted to other airports.

Almost 6,000 travellers are being accommodated in hotels in Istanbul after their flights were cancelled, reports said.

Coastguards also ordered a halt to shipping traffic in both directions through the Bosphorus Strait - one of the world's busiest sea thoroughfares.

The municipal ferry company Sehir Hatlari which handles the regular passenger crossings between the European and Asian sides of the city announced that all its routes had been suspended for the day.

The metro in Istanbul will meanwhile operate all night to compensate for the difficulties on the city's roads.

Forecasters predicted that the snowstorm would continue throughout the day before dwindling in the evening. Temperatures were expected to stay well below freezing in the days to come.

But for those not travelling, the snow provided a rare chance to see Istanbul's famous minaret and dome-studded skyline cloaked in white, just a week into the new year.