Photos from Greece's Coldest Night in 40 Years


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Photos from Greece's Coldest Night in 40 Years

Last weekend, the apparent temperature in Thessaloniki fell to 5 degrees.

This article originally appeared on VICE Greece. Text by Kostas Koukoumakas Thessaloniki on a Sunday night is usually pretty dead, but it was even more deserted than usual last week. Driving around the city, we didn't spot many other cars. After a while, photographer Alexandros turned off the car radio because it was only broadcasting messages about the schools being closed the next day. Temperatures in the area ranged from 12 to 17 degrees, while the apparent temperature was 5 degrees. Even some of the bigger avenues in the center of town were covered in ice. It was the coldest night in Thessaloniki in close to 40 years. We got out of the car and slipped and stumbled to a city-run homeless shelter in the Fix area. Around 40 people spend the night here on a regular night, but last Sunday, there were at least 70 people there—most of them Greek men. Given the temperatures, people were allowed into the dormitory earlier in the afternoon, allowed to leave later the following morning, and to take a hot bath and wash their clothes. Still, there were people insisting on sleeping on the street—we saw two men covered in blankets and plastic sheets on the streets that night. One on a concrete bench in a courtyard, another on a street corner.


Despite being warned by meteorologists, Greece's second-biggest city wasn't prepared for the cold. Gas companies hadn't instructed the people of Thessaloniki on how to deal with these unfamiliar temperatures. Gas pipes froze, which left half of the households in Thessaloniki without gas and hot water. Water meters broke, and bottled water in supermarkets quickly sold out.

We drove on through the city center, where most Christmas decorations hadn't been taken down yet. Fountains in the park and the waterfalls on the new beachfront were covered in two inches of ice—some kids were testing their luck by walking and jumping on it. In a soup shop, a waiter looked out at the street through steamed-up windows. "It's very cold," he said, perceptively. "I don't remember it ever being this cold in Thessaloniki."

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