Freak Blizzard Hits Slovenia

So it is almost a month later that I write these words, but the damage was so horrific that its not going away too soon. In fact, the environmental impact will remain with us for years.

In early February Slovenia was hit by a very unique ice blizzard that brought down tons of rain during sub-zero temperatures. If you didn’t notice something weird about this sentence, read it again. Rain in sub-zero temperatures .. not snow, not ice .. but rain. So what happens to rain in such temperatures … well, you got it .. it freezes into ice .. but only after it strikes its target. So what happens now … well, apparently, an average tree can accumulate up to half a ton of water-ice on its branches. What happens next .. you got it, branches start to break .. and break .. and break .. and suddenly half of Slovenia’s forest are literally broken. For a country that is covered by over 60% forest (no. 1 in continental Europe) … that’s quite a devastation.

While no new foresters were being hired in the past few years, there is now crazy demand for the profession and the government is even training non-pros to clear the land. So why is this necessary, well, lots of broken trees means lots of new life .. among them parasites and bacteria and what not. I don’t pretend to be a biologist but from what I understand, if Slovenia doesn’t get all this broken wood out of the forests by April … especially pine trees …  we’re gonna have some serious trouble in form of flooding, disease and what not. A good friend, a forester by profession, explained … “well, its actually quite a normal process that happens one in a 100 years or so” … well, the last time it happened I don’t think they had any power shortages …. because electricity was not yet invented. So now a bunch of forest owners must clear their land of rotting trees, at their expense, and must do so quickly, before April, at a time when there is a dire shortage of foresters to do the work. How typical.

In total, about 1018 million hectares of forests were destroyed, about half of what we have.

Take a look at some horrific photos .. all right belong to the Daily Mail UK.

But it doesn’t end there, power lines crashing down due to weight of ice on the lines. And what about the electricity poles themselves, even the giant steel structures we thought could never break … look at these stunning images representing the true forces of nature.

So what happens when power lines and poles go down … well, 100,000 people get stuck with no electricity .. and that’s not so nice when much of the heating relies on electricity. So for one week, until neighboring countries sent support in form of hundreds of generators, Slovenians were stuck in deep cold snow, without power, and some without heating. Now, many of them need to clear their land by April or face consequences.

Total damage is estimated at around 194 million euros ($266.77 million USD for those Americans out there), most of which occurred in the Western part of the country, especially around the area of Europe’s largest cave … Postojna. They say it’ll take years to clear the true damage and even longer for the land to rejuvenate itself. How sad.

Guess who’s gonna come knocking on Brussels’s door asking for aid 🙂

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