Cheer but also disruption as snow blankets Slovenia
Most of Slovenia has been blanketed with heavy snow, binging cheer and joy at what is the first such sight this winter but also causing disruption in traffic.
With snow falling since 19 January morning, the snow blanket is more than 45 centimetres thick in some places, with Environment Agency (ARSO) data showing 28 centimetres of snow in the capital Ljubljana.
The snow has slowed down traffic and some sections of roads and motorways have been temporarily closed as several lorries skidded off the road in snowy conditions.
ARSO data shows 38 centimetres of snow have fallen at Brnik, which is home to the country's largest airport, but the operator of the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport said their winter service has been managing the situation well. There have been some arrival delays though and at least one flight has been cancelled.
Some towns, including Slovenia's second largest city Maribor, reported disruption in public transport as the amount of snow exceeded forecasts. Firefighters have been deployed in Maribor to remove fallen trees.
A father and son sledding at Ljubljana castle hill. Photo: STA
The western region of Primorska did not get much snow, but the strong bora wind has been causing problems there.
The snow has brought joy to children and youth in particular, who could be spotted having fun sledding, making snowmen, throwing snow balls at each other, which have become a rare joy as winters get milder with less snow every year.
Fresh snow also comes as a relief to ski-lift operators, who have been struggling with a particularly mild winter. Krvavec, the ski resort closest to Ljubljana, has received some 40 cm of snow on top of as much, while Vogel above Lake Bohinj got 25 cm for a total of 80 cm.
The country's ski resorts saw some 150,000 skiers from the start of the latest season to the end of 2023, more than 20% less than the same time a year ago and less than half the figure two years ago when the skiing conditions were good, according to Boštjan Paradiž, the head of the Association of Ski Lift Operators.
Although snow is forecast to stop by the evening, Slovenia is looking at a crisp and sunny weekend ahead. However, weather forecasters expect warmer air to make its way in next week so that snow on low ground is not expected to last long.