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[EDITOR'S NOTE: DRAGANA VICANOVIC sent dispatches from Belgrade to your World's Magazine during the 1999 war in Kosovo and bombing of Serbia. She has remained a close friend and contact of the publisher in East Europe, where she lives and works as a documentary film-maker. Her husband, Dragan, mentioned in this missive, is Editor of Serbia's most popular magazine, Third Eye. With her permission, we are publishing the following e-mail about the recent catastrophic storms in Europe. - RA]
Belgrade, SERBIA - Hi, Bogey!
As I promised, I dug out some more information about this weekend's storm.
It started all of a sudden on Thursday, November 18, and struck central and southeast Europe.
This horrible storm showed a few different faces: in some places it was accompanied by hurricane-force winds, elsewhere by snow or heavy rain and in other places it was a combination of all three.
The news agencies here in Europe reported on Saturday that eight people(including a 6 month old baby) were killed in Poland when the hurricane smashed into their homes. The hurricane wind devastated many regions in Poland. In Warsaw, the heavy snow storm started on Friday. In the central and western parts of Poland, multiple accidents were reported that were believed due to the combination of the snow storm, strong winds and rain. Electrical systems throughout that country were seriously damaged.
Two people died in Germany, victims of either the snow storm and icy roadways. In Bavaria and the northern parts of Germany, it was almost impossible to get out. The raging winds and snow were also reported to have hit Austria, Romania and swept on into Russia.
In Moscow, all airports were closed.
Tw o people died and four were injured in Vienna, as a result of the storm. All over Austria, the wind was overturning cars on highways, ripping off the tops of trees, balconies and roofs ...
I wrote you about Slovakia, but here are few more details. Hurricane-like winds were reported blowing at the speed of 173 kilometers per hour (about 108 miles per hour.) These gale winds wiped out half of the famous Tatre National Park. This park is a major tourist attraction in Slovakia. It is, or should I say was, extremely beautiful. For someone who adores forests like me, this park was -- Well, let me say that a few years ago when I last saw it, it was a real holiday for my eyes and pleasure for my soul. Unfortunately, during this storm every part of a forested area of approximately 12,000 hectares was erased from the face of the Earth. Another 12,000 hectares of forest was severely damaged.
Here is the irony, my friend: There are NO hurricanes in Europe. Or, more precisly, there weren't hurricanes in Europe until the last few years.
Here in Serbia, it seems that the weather changes on the hour. We used to have a continental climate, with strictly divided seasons of the year. But, for the last few years, it is impossible to determine what is Spring and what is Summer. Not to mention how the lack of snow and real winter, affect winter sports fans like me.
And, Bogey my dear (I know I shouldn't start sentence with "and" ), I am hungry for snow. The last time I enjoyed a winter's beauty, was before 1999 and the NATO aggression. Everything has changed since then.
Remember, in 1999, when you refused to publish the section of my article that mentioned artificial weather modifications? I objected because I felt there was quite clear evidence that NATO was conducting climate war, as well.
Have you heard of the "Butterfly theory"? It is a part of chaos theory and says that if a butterfly in one part of the world flaps its wings, there might occur a catastrophe in some other part of the world. It is hard to believe in it, right? Yet, after all those bombs were dropped throughout Serbia -- after all those poisons that escaped into the atmosphere from explosions at chemical plants, factories and power stations -- the ozone layer above us was literarily raped. Some said it will take 10 years for the gap to be restored.
During the last 5 years, the weather has changed not only here but also all over Europe. Horrible floods and rockslides, exceptionally strong winds and large storms have developed in France, the UK, Italy, Germany ... Most of central Europe was flooded this year also.
The meteorologists like to blame cyclones from the north and collisions of warm and cold air currents. Most recently, they have favored claiming "unexpected weather anomalies." For me, it sounds more like "the Butterfly effect" makes some sense after all. And if you add the global warming, the picture is complete.
Few weeks ago, I wrote you that Dragan and I will go to the farm [The Vicanovic family farm, outside of Belgrade. -- Ed.], which we did. It was Saturday, November 13. The previous day, it was raining all day and night in Belgrade. Saturday morning was unexpectedly shiny and hot. Just in case, I decided to take with us wool sweaters.
When we arrived at the farm, it was so hot, that we both had to change our clothing. We switched to T shirts with short sleeves. Believe it or not, it was like the most beautiful day of late spring. The sun was shining, it was warm, the sky was clear, all the cats were taking sunbaths while the dog was literarily dancing around. It was quite unbelievable weather for November, but great. Oh yes, it was great until 1.p.m.
Suddenly, the wind started to blow from out of nowhere, the temperature fell instantly and 10 minutes after 1. p.m. we were running to the house to get warm clothing.
Two hours latter, we were shivering by the fire while watching the opaque rain drape across the window panes. It was clear that the rain would not stop and the temperature continued to drop, so we decided to get back to Belgrade totally frozen. It was an adventure from "Phoenix" to "Siberia" in just a few hours.
Now, I'll go back to the famous weekend storm.
Until Friday, November 19. we had quite amazing weather, for days. It was unusually hot for November, with temperatures from 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit) up to 28 degrees Celsius (82 F)! It reminded me on your story about hot desert Phoenix, only this warm weather was taking place in the wrong part of the world. It seemed that we were luckily spared from what was going on around central Europe for the previous 2 days.
But on Friday the temperature here fell from 19 degrees Celsius, recorded at noon, to a drastic 0 degrees Celsius (32 F) in the next few hours.
Dragan [Dragana's husband. -- Ed.] was at work, preparing a celebration for the Third Eye's 15th anniversary. I was at home. At 4. p. m., the sky became totally dark. Then the wind started. It was like someone pressed a button and, all of a sudden, turned on a rocket propeller. Various objects were flying through the air and I was afraid that something might hit a window and break it.
Luckily, the trees outside of our windows acted as an efficient protective shield.
It looked to me like people on the street were running while, in fact, the wind was blowing into their backs, pushing them to go faster and faster. Then the wind accelerated and the rain started. I wrote you about it. The storm lasted for 3 hours. All over the city, the trees were ripped from their roots, smashing cars, windows and power stations.
About 200 firemen were running around, taking people from smashed cars. The wind blew off roofs from several schools and buildings; cops and firemen were evacuating children from the damaged schools and ambulance sirens were screaming all over the city. Luckily, no one died.
The wind was so strong that our whole building was shaking. And when Dragan came home (remember, his office is downtown, almost at the center of Belgrade), he said that for three hours he was the only sounds he heard in this office's area were those of shattering glass, roaring winds and the screams of sirens.
City services took several days bring all of the power stations back to operation. We didn't have electricity for hours during the day of the storm. When power was restored, they would turn it on and off, and on and off, until all the damaged stations were repaired.
As I already wrote you, from my point of view it was a beautiful, magnificent and tremendous storm, one of a kind which I never had seen before.
The next day, on Saturday, it was snowing for the first time this year. The snow show lasted exactly 20 seconds!
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