Authorities have warned that the snowfall, which began on Wednesday in Istanbul, will be more intense over the weekend. Repeated warnings to citizens and efforts to keep the roads clear paid off on Thursday when the precipitation worsened. However, on Friday, the city witnessed more traffic disruptions, with drivers abandoning their cars and walking to work or taking mass transit in some places, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
The snowfall, expected to continue sporadically until Monday, accompanied by blizzards was stronger on the city’s European side. On Friday morning, it caused traffic jams on the TransEuropean Motorway (TEM), while the traffic was considerably slow along the E-5, another major highway straddling the city.
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya had urged the motorists earlier not to drive unless it was an emergency, calling on Istanbulites to use mass transit instead. The governorate had earlier announced a ban on trucks but scrapped it later. But on Friday, trucks were allowed but it is expected that the ban might be reimposed depending on the weather conditions. The governorate had also banned all intercity buses from leaving the city, but the decision was reversed later – though this may change according to the weather conditions. Trains and flights remain the only option to travel to and from the city for now, apart from private vehicles.
Turkish Airlines (THY), the national flag carrier, canceled 213 flights to and from Istanbul and Sabiha Gokcen airports on Friday due to adverse weather. Around 162 more flights from Istanbul Airport and 18 others from Sabiha Gokcen airport for Saturday were also canceled, according to media reports.
On Friday, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) announced that the shopping malls in the city would open at 12 p.m. and close by 7 p.m. local time due to the weather conditions.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu warned on Thursday evening that the situation would be “difficult” for the city between Saturday night and Sunday morning but assured measures are in place for smooth transportation in the city of more than 15 million people. The minister, who was in Istanbul to monitor the ministry’s efforts to keep roads open, told reporters that they have deployed crews, particularly on highways.