What happens when Istanbul gets a few inches of snow

View from our balcony. Sad palm tree. :(

View from our balcony. Sad palm tree. 😦

So it’s snowing in Istanbul. With nearly 30 brutal Minnesota winters under my belt, you’d think I’d seen it all when it comes to arctic weather conditions, but the past few days have proved that wrong.

Here’s what happens when a few inches (err, several centimeters) of the wintery white stuff blankets a city where palm trees are plentiful and snowfalls are rare:

  • Everyone freaks out. Before the snow accumulates, schools are canceled, people leave work, and the streets become ghost towns. And Istanbul’s online forums/groups are quite literally blowing up about snow-related topics. Even when someone posts something vague like, “any news?” everyone intuitively understands they must be asking if school is
    Sunsnowers are a thing now.

    Sunsnowers are a thing now.

    canceled yet.

  • It thunders and lightnings. Well, that was unexpected! Never experienced that one.
  • You see sunshowers, but with snow. Is there even a word for this? Sunsnowers? Other ideas? Another first for this blizzard veteran.
  • You get flakes that more closely resemble mini-snowballs. Really. It’s shaped like hail, but entirely snow. Again, not really a thing in Minnesota, unless being gone for a month has somehow erased the “snow memories” folder in my brain?
    Snow pellets.

    Snow pellets.

    Definitely comment if you can pinpoint any snow-lightning/sunsnower/snow-pellet-related experiences (say that ten times fast!) I may have had living in a tundra.

  • Istanbul deploys all of its snow-related resources (spoiler: not that many). In more than one mile (don’t feel like using the metric system anymore) of walking these past few days, I’ve witnessed one snowplow (that seemed to be having some trouble) and zero particles of road salt. The whole salt-free thing is a problem given how crazy hilly it is here (think San Francisco).
  • People get resourceful. While stores here don’t sell tampons (seriously), they apparently do sell sleds because we saw a kid get transported down the street in one. I also saw many umbrellas, which seemed super silly at first. To be fair, given the big, wet snowflakes here, I suppose there’s some sense to it. But you still won’t see this Minnesota native use an umbrella as a snow-shield anytime soon.
Honestly, I didn’t come to this city expecting to experience new things in the snow department. But like many things here, Istanbul certainly has a way of surprising me.
Snowy_day3 Snowy_day4 Snowy_day5

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