Tuesday, 24 January 2006
The Big Frost Kais
They say that the Dutch always talk about the weather. But look at the Greeks! While the Siberian winter sneaks into Europe from the East the Dutch News only continues to squabble over the failing politics while the Greek News cannot get enough of all the snowy images of the cold and the big snow that is drifting into the country. Although Greece is not as badly off as countries like Russia, Germany, Romania or Poland, the bitter cold and snowstorms are the talk of the day.
It is already a week that they are preparing us for the cold. A few days ago the website www.wunderground.com, which I think is one of the more reliable weather forecasts on the net, predicted -11°C for Lesvos. Which is pretty scary. I come from a cold land in the North, but for an island that is full of nature that can handle only a few bites of frost, that prediction might be pretty bad.
In the 19th century Lesvos was hit by three big catastrophes: in 1836 the island got hit by the plague and 25.000 people died. In 1867 there was a severe earthquake that badly damaged the life on the island. The third disaster was the Big Frost (Kais) that hit the island on the 12th of January in 1850 and caused a real disaster.
According to the writer Prodromos Anagnostou in his booklet 'Froso's Little Violets' a bitter cold set in on the eve of the 11th of January. The next day the people went as usual working on their fields. Suddenly the sky became pitch black and threatening. The people, although it was too early, went home feeling a disaster coming. As did the animals like goats, sheep and donkeys who were out on the fields. They foresaw the deep drop of the temperature and all went into the villages, stopping in front of the doors, begging to be let in.
Until then it had been a beautiful winter with mild temperatures and a lot of sun. The nature was ready to embrace the spring. The first almond blossoms merrily rocked themselves in the sun, the trees were full of juice for the buds and the new fruit. At midday the sea started smoking, two hours later the temperature fell to - 13-15°C! The ground hurled the new sawn grain and there could be heard a terrible noise: the barks of the trees were tearing open...
The cold destroyed all olive trees, all fruit trees and many other crops. A lot of animals died. After this there was famine on the island and no more work on the fields. A lot of people left the island searching for a new life. They left for Egypt, Smyrna (Izmir) and Constantinople (nowadays Istanbul). They built whole new villages in Anatolia.
It is difficult to imagine how Lesvos looked after this Big Cold. Barren trees, no flowers, no blossoms, no green... Nowadays we have the internet to prepare us for such big colds.
And they seem to enjoy doing that. The terrible cold from Russia that was ready to capture Europe got huge dimensions, as well as for Greece. The day after they predicted a -11°C, they somewhat raised the temperatures: it would be more days in a row -8°C, which is also pretty bad for the island. Finally they postponed the cold and raiseded some more the temperatures. Lucky us, because we really do not want to flee from this island after such a Big Frost...
Today the Siberian cold reached the island. A North eastern gale makes the temperature feel far below zero. The real temperature now, Tuesday morning the 24st of January, will be around zero. But you never know. Two years ago we also had a crazy drop in temperatures: in one hour the temperature of 10°C dropped to 10°C below zero, causing the death of several trees and other crops. The majestic eucalyptus trees are still recovering. Now the mountains slowly become white and the first showers of snow, caused by a mercilessness snowstorm, race over the fields. Is Lesvos going to survive this Russian Cold?
Copyright © Smitaki 2006