Snow and freezing temperatures hit Southeast U.S. and Eastern Europe

NEW YORK — A winter storm bearing down on the Southeast U.S. with the possibility of snow, sleet and freezing rain is threatening to disrupt weekend travel. On the other side of the pond, blizzards swept parts of eastern Europe on Friday, causing some train, ferry and airport cancellations.

Turkish Airlines cancelled 192 domestic and international flights. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlantia, Georgia is showing 154 cancelled flights on flightaware.com.

Alabama and Georgia announced they were going on an emergency footing. Classes have been cancelled across several states and motorists are being urged to avoid unnecessary weekend travel as crews rush to pre-treat roads.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Friday and Saturday from eastern Alabama through north Georgia, including Atlanta, and into the Carolinas and part of Virginia.

Organizers say they’ve moved the annual Joan of Arc Parade through New Orleans’ French Quarter from Friday to Saturday night over concerns about the winter storm moving across the South.

In Eastern Europe, a cold snap caused five deaths in 24 hours in Poland as blizzards swept through the region.

In Romania, one of the worst affected areas, authorities said main highways in the south and east were made impassable due to the heavy snow. More than 40 trains were not running due to snow on the track.

Heavy snow and strong winds disrupted traffic in southern Serbia and snow piled up to two-meters (6.6 feet) high, closing several roads.

Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, cancelled 192 domestic and international flights that were scheduled for Saturday after heavy snow, icy conditions and strong winds were forecast for Istanbul.

Bulgarian authorities said some 650 villages across the country were without electricity due to high winds and heavy snow. Temperatures are forecast to drop to minus 20 C (minus 4 F) at the weekend.

In Croatia, the temperatures dipped below freezing even along the country’s Adriatic coast where high winds halted some ferry traffic to the islands and over the bridges along the coastline.

Elsewhere, temperatures in Germany plunged as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit) overnight, after storm “Axel” sucked in icy air from the Arctic.

In northern Europe, which is accustomed to subzero temperatures, it was bitterly cold but sunny, plummeting to minus 23 C (minus 9.4 F) Friday morning in Helsinki, Finland, the same temperature recorded in Latvia.

Strong gales off the coast of western Norway caused the cancellation of a ferry, and on a major rail section west of Copenhagen, Denmark, there were delays due to the icy weather.