Fierce gales close schools on 3 Greek islands, halt ferries

September 26, 2018 - 12:12 pm

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Gale force winds predicted for parts of Greece, some exceeding 100 kph (62 mph), prompted authorities to halt ferry services and shut down schools on three islands Wednesday.

The storm named Xenofon sent temperatures dropping from nearly 30 C (86 F) on Monday to 18 C (64 F) on Wednesday, while the first snowfall was reported in mountainous areas.

Schools on the Aegean Sea islands of Andros, Mykonos and Tinos will also remain closed Thursday amid the severe weather warnings.

Meteorologists said the winds could reach hurricane levels in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece in the coming days.

Late Wednesday, the fire service said a wildfire spurred on by strong winds on the Ionian island of Cephallonia was threatening the village of Zola, but it wasn't immediately clear whether its residents would have to be evacuated.

The fire service said 16 firefighters with eight fire trucks were battling the blaze.

The gales also halted efforts to ease overcrowding at a much-criticized migrant camp on the island of Lesbos after ferry services to the mainland were canceled.