Heavy storm brings Istanbul to a halt

A North-Eastern storm has caused a lot of problems in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday. Heavy showers and winds did significant damage to trees and homes, and several ferries on the Bosporus got into trouble, while one airport had to be closed temporarily. This disrupted the daily lives of residents and tourists in the city.  

Text and photos by Bart Jacobs

Due to the severe weather a Russian naval vessel had to drop anchor on Monday, just a few miles off the coast of Istanbul’s neighbourhood Moda. On Tuesday a plane skid off the runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport, on the Asian side of the city, because of heavy winds. None of the 164 passengers were hurt.

A ferry fighting against the elements on the Bosporus.

Throughout Istanbul several ferry services were cancelled, especially the larger boats that also carry cars. Furkan Yilmaz, who works for IDO, a major ferry service in Istanbul, explained why some of the ferries were cancelled. “As you can see, the waves are very high today. If you have a boat full of cars, that’s no problem. But if the deck is only half full of cars, the boat will start to swing and might even capsize. The service on our regular passenger ships went on as usual.”

People leaving a ferry at Golden Horn harbour.

The weather was also bad news for food stalls located near the Bosporus. Omer Tekin, who sells bread rolls at the Golden Horn harbour, says that days like these are the worst for him. “Normally on cold days I sell a lot, because people like to have something warm while they’re waiting for their ferry or bus. When it’s raining, I sell almost nothing. People are in a hurry and want to go home quickly. My stall also doesn’t have a sunscreen, that’s not allowed by the city council, so my customers are standing in the rain when they buy something. So today is bad, but we’ll have sunny weather in a few days!”

A food stall next to Golden Horn harbour.

Over the last few days, an average of 10 inches of rain fell on the western part of Turkey. The strong winds caused many trees to be knocked down and several roofs were blown off buildings. A special crew consisting of firemen and municipality officials worked around the clock to clean up roads, making sure that traffic could continue its journey. Coming Wednesday January 8, the storm is expected to pass Turkey and the sun will return to Istanbul.