What will Cyprus do in extreme snow conditions like those in Greece?

When a state of emergency is declared

DF0A24BD 4807 48C3 84B0 F6427B85CB8F precipitation, emergency, SEVERE WEATHER, Civil Defense, snowfall

The need to create a unified mechanism that will have the general command but also the responsibility emerges from time to time in Cyprus, especially in cases where the country is affected by natural disasters.

It has not been a few times that fires or heavy rains have brought to the surface the problem of the fragmentation of services and the absence of a single mechanism that will be put into operation in emergencies.

On the occasion of the chaos caused in Greece a few days ago due to the passage of the Elpida weather system, SigmaLive sought to see what the national laws of Cyprus provide for similar extreme weather events.

The Meteorological Service is the one that essentially directs the mechanisms of the state in order to mobilize them. It should be noted, however, that each service / mechanism is mobilized separately if and when the warning falls within its scope. If, for example, the Meteorological Service issues a yellow warning for extremely high temperatures or strong winds, then the Fire Brigade is on alert as the risk of a fire is possible. Similarly in the case of warnings for strong winds and rains where the competent services are put on alert for fear of floods or trapping by them.

The occurrence of extreme weather phenomena, such as storms, tornadoes, heavy rainfall, heavy snowfall, heat waves, etc., in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, which could pose a risk to life, health and well-being of the population, made the elaboration of a plan for their confrontation, with the code name "PROMETHEUS".

This (secret) plan is applied to unprecedented passers-by which our country will be called to face and 40 services are involved in it. This plan is implemented by the Civil Defense, which reports to the Ministry of Interior. It is activated only in conditions of extreme cold or snowfall or both as well as in conditions of extreme heat. PROMETHEUS is not activated only with the warning of the Meteorological Service but other factors are evaluated and the incident is evaluated.

The head of the project is the respective Minister of Interior, while the role of information and coordination is played by the respective Prefects of each province. The community leaders are also involved.

Some of the Services included in the Plan are: Meteorological Service, Ministry of Health, Police, Fire Department, Forest Department, Civil Defense, Water Department, Municipalities, Labor Inspection Department, EAC, National Guard. As we have been told by competent authorities, the Services are numerous, however they are not all activated at the same time but only those who have a duty to assist are mobilized.

Meteorology Department: The key player

The Meteorological Service is the competent authority for monitoring the weather and issues announcements regarding the forecast - worsening weather. The area of ​​responsibility of the Department is not only the area of ​​Cyprus, but also the Eastern Mediterranean and the flight control area of ​​Nicosia.

Specialized forecasts are issued for each region.

In order to implement the Emergency Management Plan due to weather phenomena, the Meteorological Department is in contact with the other competent authorities to which it transmits all the information in order to carry out their mission.

The Meteorology informs the Civil Defense, the Fire Service, the Police Headquarters, the Ministry of Interior and the local Provinces so that each one can proceed individually in his own actions.

The Meteorology Department provides its Services either from the Weather Forecast Office at Larnaca Airport, or from the special office at Athalassa Station, or from the respective Crisis Management Center.

When a state of emergency is declared

A State of Emergency is declared, in case of war or other public danger which threatens the existence of the Republic or any part of it. (Article 183 of the Constitution)

The role of Civil Defense

The presence and responsibilities of the Civil Defense are crucial.


  • They are divided into rescue groups
  • They move trees and rubble where necessary
  • They provide assistance and information to the public
  • Search and rescue in inaccessible places e.g. snow

Reports for help reach the coordination center in Nicosia and from there the instructions are given to the involved Provinces.

Exercise "Prometheus"

The Civil Defense carried out a paper exercise on October 27, 2021, at the Larnaca Regional Directorate of Civil Defense.

The purpose of the exercise was to test the Special National Plan "Prometheus", which concerns the treatment of extreme weather events.

The exercise was attended by representatives from a total of 20 services, including the Prefect, under whose coordination a multi-service coordination center operated. From the Civil Defense of Larnaca, in addition to the permanent executives, several volunteers took part. An important role was played by the Operational Support Team of the Operational Control Center of the Larnaca Civil Defense, while around 70 people took part.

The aim of the exercise was to develop better coordination between the Services, to get acquainted with the provisions of the "Prometheus" Plan and to identify any weaknesses in time, so that in case of extreme weather events they can act in a timely and effective manner.

The snowplows

Snowplows play a crucial role, of course, in snow conditions. The body that has snowplows in Cyprus is the Department of Forests and Public Works (2). Recently, the Department was strengthened with three state-of-the-art vehicles. The Department also has at its disposal two older snowplows.

The new fire trucks are equipped with high and low pressure fire pump and can carry 3,5 tons of water for firefighting. They have the ability to move off-road and in fire lanes with large slopes. Their purchase cost amounts to 1,2 million euros.

These new fire trucks will be placed one in each of the three Forest Regions: Paphos, Troodos and Nicosia. They will be used by the Special Group of Forest Firefighters, the mobilization of which will be based on the "Lightning" Plan in order to undertake the special and most difficult missions. With the appropriate additional equipment purchased, ie three blades and a snow blower, these fire trucks will be converted into snowplows and used during the winter months to clear the road of snow.

Four-wheel drive vehicles that can move in snow conditions are available to the Fire Department. These vehicles are also used for the rescues made by the Force in the mountainous areas.

The Police, for its part, has a tracked vehicle which can also assist in conditions of heavy snowfall.

The Army, on the other hand, has a snowplow which is located in a unit of the National Guard in Troodos. EF has other vehicles and machinery in various units, which can assist in a situation of extreme weather events. All the actions of EF are included under the umbrella of the CARE Plan.

It is worth noting that the snowplows move in the mountainous areas of Cyprus. It is understood that in case of heavy snowfall in the interior or in the coastal cities the movement of the snowplows will be done with the use of trucks which will transport the snowplows. In case the roads are inaccessible then the snowplows will open the way for the truck to move and then they will be reloaded to move to areas where it is needed.