While Athens is famous for its pretty mild, “soft” winters, there are few times especially in the last decade, the snow has made its appearance not only in the north but in central and southern seaside suburbs.
Unlike the 90s where the Athenians in the center and south of the city saw snow only in 1992 (February of ’92), during the first decade of the new millennium, snowfalls took place several times giving pleasure especially to the kids who took to the streets to enjoy this rare, Athenian weather.
Winter in Athens, January 2002
In specific, in January 2002 snow fell for the first time in the new millennium on the streets of Athens. At the center of Athens snowfall was pretty intense for about half an hour so that Lycabettus hill, Filopappos hill, the streets of Plaka and the Acropolis rock were dressed in white for an hour or a little more. Gradually snowfall intensity decreased significantly and the snow melted in a few minutes. The black and white photos from the pedestrian walkway of Dionysiou Areopagitou right under the Acropolis and the Parthenon, is from January 2002. Shots were taken with a DSLR camera (Canon EOS 3000) and black and white film Ilford ISO 400.
Winter in Athens, February 2004
But the first heavy snowfall in downtown and southern Athens came two years later, namely in February 2004. Specifically, the snow began to fall across the city by the evening of February 12, at about 2 am when the snow started covering the southern suburbs (Alimos, Paleo Faliro, etc.). Next morning, on February 13, everything was frozen, the temperature in the south was below zero but people did not lose this unique opportunity to ride in snow parks and walks beside the Saronic Gulf vaporing sea.
White mountains on Attica basin
The winter of 2005 was relatively normal for Athens since there were not any intense weather phenomena in downtown Athens but rather some cold and snowy days in the northern Athenian areas. Enough though to cover the mountains of Attica basin, namely Parnitha, Penteli and Imittos mountains.
In 2006 there was snowfall in downtown Athens and south suburbs for two consecutive days. Snowfall was not as intense as it was two years ago but it was enough for to cover the most central hills like Filopappou and Lycabettus with snow for almost and entire day.
Winter and snow in 2008 in Athens.
And this brings us to 2008 which has been perhaps the strongest snowfall in Athens, in the central and southern suburbs for the entire decade from 2000 to 2010. The first strong indications showed up on Friday afternoon, February 16, when snow started to cover the northern suburbs of Politia and Ekali. This night was quite cold (around -5 degrees Celsius) with relatively strong north winds.
The next day, Saturday, February 16, 2006, in the central and southern suburbs we has some snowfalls but snow was melting by the time it reached the ground. All that changed on Saturday night when the storm continued with even more pronounced effects.
Specifically, in the northern suburbs strong winds stopped but snowfall continued with greater intensity. This time snowflakes were large enough and in conjunction with the calm that prevailed everything was dressed in white.
Snow in several places had reached 40 centimeters in most suburbs in north Athens and transportations were possible only with snow chains even in areas very close to central Athens.
On Sunday morning, February 17, 2008 in the morning the weather was relatively mild but in midday it changed for the worse (or better, for some of us).
Intense cold, heavy clouds and within half an hour heavy snow was falling for at least 2-3 hours so that everything was dressed in white.
From the streets to the sidewalks, Ostria cafe park and tables with chairs, sailing and fishing boats in the Marina of Alimos and of course the beaches of Kalamaki and Paleo Faliro. The sand turned into white and the snow stopped just where the sea began.
At around 7pm snowfall stopped but at 10 pm it started to snow again with great intensity until 4-5 in the next morning! As a result central streets of Athens and the southern suburbs such as Amfitheas and the coastal highway were literally disappeared under the snow!
That Sunday night, there was no one walking on the streets or driving on the roads and all you could hear was this unique sound of snow falling and covering everything!
The next morning, everything was white and illuminated by the unique light of Athens’ sun that made its brilliant appearance after a few days off, to remind us that he is still the master of Attica even in the heart of such a severe winter in Athens.
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