Fox News Weather Center

Biggest snowstorm so far this season threatens eastern Turkey late week

The biggest snowstorm so far this season will threaten eastern Turkey as 2015 transitions to 2016.

Malatya, Erzincan, Mus, Erzurum and surrounding areas in eastern Turkey are at risk for substantial snow as unseasonably cold air plunges southward from eastern Europe and a pair of storm systems arrive from the Mediterranean Sea.

"The potential exists for more than 30 cm (12 inches) of snow," AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Douty said. "More than 60 cm (24 inches) can bury [the mountains in southeastern Turkey]."

South of these mountains, the air will be too warm for snow to fall.

The burying snowfall threatens to severely disrupt travel, both on the ground and in the air. New Year's Eve festivities may have to be canceled.

The snow will clog roads, making travel hazardous and extremely difficult for motorists. Airline passengers should prepare for cancellations and are urged to make alternate plans before the snow arrives.

Snow will not be confined to eastern Turkey. As the cold air pours over the warmer waters of the Black Sea, bands of snow will begin streaming into the Koroglu and Pontic mountains at midweek with significant accumulations possible by the end of the week.

Snow could even fall and accumulate in Istanbul later this week. The greater potential for accumulating snow will be in any heavier snow showers and in the higher terrain.

Setting the stage for the snowfall is the unseasonably cold air arriving from eastern Europe. Outside of far southern Turkey, temperatures later this week will be held 6-10 degrees Celsius (10-20 degrees Fahrenheit) below normal.

The air will feel even colder around Istanbul as a gusty wind blows.