ATHENS (Reuters) - Greeks who would usually be basking in the early summer sun have kept behind closed doors this week as winds and heavy rains washed away sunbeds and sent floods crashing into some resorts.
Freak weather conditions drenched towns and cities and turned some roads into rivers - a worry in a country so dependent on its summer tourist trade.
Standing ankle-deep in water inside a flooded room, 63-year-old Meletis Rigos said a muddy brown torrent overwhelmed his house and garden on Wednesday in the town of Magoula, about 24 km (15 miles) west of Athens.
“As soon as we saw the red silt coming down I ran,” he told Reuters TV.
“We flooded in five minutes,” said Athena, another resident. “You see all the water, one torrent came from there and the other from over there, from the mountain. Where else could it go but inside?”
Greek TV channels showed images of sunbeds being washed away in northern resorts, including Chalkidiki and near the city of Thessaloniki. Temperatures, usually breaking above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), have hovered around 23.
Experts have blamed a weather system dubbed Nefeli - evoking the name of a cloud nymph from Greek mythology.
Warmer winds had been held up in other parts of Western Europe and would eventually make their way over, said Antonis Lalos, the head of weather forecasting at the National Meteorological Service - stopping short of giving a date.
“No one can know with certainty what the weather’s going to look like from day to day,” he said.
“No, (summer) is not on its way, at least not in the first week of July,” meteorologist Christina Souzi said on Skai TV.
In the capital, some locals said they had decided to delay their own holiday plans and stay inside.
“I’ve never seen the weather in Athens like this during the summer,” said Maria Balafa, a 23-year-old student.
Reporting by Stavros Agorakis; Editing by George Georgiopoulos, Renee Maltezou and Andrew Heavens