ISTANBUL, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Heavy snowfalls in most of Turkey, including main cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, have disrupted air and road traffic while meteorologists warned the cold spell could last until the end of next week.
"Turkey is under the spell of a polar vortex, and we can expect temperatures to plummet to minus 14 degrees Celsius in some provinces. This episode is expected to last on and off for about two weeks," meteorologist Adil Tek told Xinhua.
"This is one of the longest cold spells in the last decade," he explained.
A total of 77 flights have been canceled or delayed due to weather conditions from Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport located on the Asian side of the city on Saturday and Sunday, Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines announced.
Land traffic has also been disrupted in Istanbul. Up to 20 cm of snow has been recorded in some parts of the city, the Turkish State Meteorological Services announced.
In Ankara, heavy snow buried roads under a thick blanket in the city and surrounding areas, disrupting traffic in some parts despite the round-the-clock efforts of municipal rescue trucks and hundreds of workers.
The country's eastern and southeastern provinces are also hit by severe snowfall for the last five days.
A snowstorm particularly hit hard the southeastern city of Gaziantep, the heaviest in the last 50 years, according to local authorities, wreaking havoc in the city and its surroundings.
Diyarbakir, the main city of the region, has also been covered under snow, severely disrupting road travel.
While there is a downside to heavy snowfall, it is also a blessing as the country is reeling from drought. The country's hydro dams will benefit from the snowfall after a dry spell, authorities said.