Rare ice storm hits Waldviertel
The fire service was called out more than 200 times over the weekend in the district of Zwettl (Lower Austria) as a rare ice storm hit the region, bringing chaos with layers of frozen ice in trees.
Firefighters have been busy clearing away hundreds of trees from the vicinity of homes and power lines. The trees' branches had been bent almost double by the weight of the ice.
The area near Ottenschlag has particularly been hit hard. A combination of very low temperatures and high humidity caused many layers of thick frost to form into heavy ice.
Motorists in the region have been asked to exercise extreme caution due to icy conditions on the roads.
Northeast Fire Department spokesman Franz Resperger described on Sunday how many trees were destroyed by the ice, including some with trunks more than a meter in diameter.
Christmas market danger
He also related how some well-attended Christmas markets were faced with the risk of closure due to dangerous overhanging branches covered in ice, but firefighters were able to cut back the affected trees so the markets could open on time.
The cutting and rescue work was expected to continue throughout the weekend and into the early morning hours of Monday.
The sight of the ice-covered trees was "breathtaking" and awakened for many reminders of the major disaster operations undertaken by fire departments in northeast Slovenia last winter.