Istanbul, Turkey - Turkey has braced itself this week for heavy snowfalls expected over the course of the weekend in Istanbul, Ankara, and other parts of the country. The city of Istanbul awoke this morning to a mantle of snow and a sneaky chill in the air, after snow began falling late on Friday. Snowfalls should continue for the entire duration of the weekend and temperatures have already dropped considerably.

Flights canceled at Istanbul's international airports

The runways of Istanbul’s two international airports, Ataturk and Sabiha Gökcen, carry a large amount of air traffic daily, with Ataturk International Airport being one of the world’s busiest.

The current weather conditions have been quite a setback, as numerous flights to and from these airports have been brought to a halt. No further notice has been given as to when flights will resume, although the weather conditions should improve in the week that lies ahead.

International airline carriers affected by snowfalls

To ensure the safety of all passengers, Turkish Airlines canceled 610 of its scheduled flights, including both local and international destinations. Almost 400 flights were canceled on Friday by major international airlines to deal with the situation, and the number has since risen to more than 800 in total.

Public transportation services operating across the city

Metro trains, taxis, and buses in the city continue to run and provide public transport services to its diverse population spread across two continents.

The snowfall along several routes has, however, resulted in severe traffic congestion. Citizens have been advised to rather make use of public transport while the current weather prevails. In some areas, the snow is at least 65cm deep at this stage. Istanbul’s ferry services transporting passengers to different parts of the city via the Bosphorous River will, however, not be operating under such dense snowfall.

Turkey has anticipated a much colder season this year, and as flights stay grounded, it seems the harsh winter has set in. Life continues although the cafés and streets frequented by locals are quieter than most days. The nation should see snowfall continue for the entire duration of the weekend as temperatures drop to below zero.