With much of Europe under a blanket of snow and several spectacular images in unusual locations doing the rounds on social media networks such as Facebook, there have been thousands of news stories in recent days about the effects of the cold snap that has brought snow to the shores of the Adriatic in Croatia.
While snow is common in Croatia (whose sporting heroes include Olympic skiing champion Janica Kostelic), it is extremely rare on the Dalmatian coast, and tourist cities such as Dubrovnik and Split have enjoyed unusual snowfall in recent days.
The location most famous for its weather in Croatia - the island of Hvar - has also been the recipient of snow. Known officially as the sunniest island in the Adriatic, with an average of 2,724 hours of sun every year, Hvar's legendary climate is part of the national pysche, and rare snowfall on Hvar always makes the international news regionally, as it did in this report
While snow has fallen several times in the last decade, it has never lasted more than a day, and is often gone within a couple of hours, but the snowfall this week has been the most significant in the last twenty years, and has led to some unusual sights and reactions on the island.
Perhaps the biggest surprise driving along the main artery from Stari Grad to Hvar Town was the appearance of a snow plough clearing the snow in the opposite direction. While the sight itself was not unusual given the weather conditions (four-wheel drive only), it was hard to imagine that the plough had come from the mainland, given the atrocious conditions all over the country. Upon investigation, Digital Journal learned that the plough lives permanently on the island and is owned by the regional road authorities. That the Adriatic's sunniest island owns a snow plough has caused more than a few raised eyebrows locally, and Digital Journal has scheduled an interview with its driver in the coming days.
As the island's children were understandably excited at the unusual gift from the skies, there were other innovative reactions to the cold snap. Local Internet portal Otok Hvar reported on the founding of the island's first ski club in Velo Grablje
on February 4, 2012. Velo Grablje has a full-time population of just seven people, but was once the centre of lavender production for all Dalmatia, and it hosts the annual lavender festival every June.
The island's premier adventure specialists, Hvar Adventure
, wasted no time in taking advantage of the opportunity to be the first to brave the snow and scale the summit of the island at Sveti Nikola, while local football team NK Hvar
made national news with their decision to go for a swim in the chilly Adriatic.
The snow receded after a day in Jelsa, where the lead photo of this article was taken, and residents came out into the sun to enjoy a coffee on the square, eagerly swapping snow tales over an espresso. As for the legend of the free accommodation, it appears that it does exist, with a caveat, as leading island hotel group Suncani Hvar posted on its Facebook page
The 'rule' applies if it snows 7 days in a row:))