When will the gorge of Samaria open this year?

'The Gates' - gorge of Samaria

It's the middle of March and the first emails asking me when the gorge of Samaria will open are starting to trickle in. It's a yearly phenomenon that announces spring.
I guess that if I post about it here I can just email the link as a reply.

The short answer is: I haven't got a clue.
But I will write when the gorge opens as soon as it does on the Samaria web page.

Should you want to know more, here is the long answer:
If you have read  my page on the gorge of Samaria (which is probably why you have emailed me and not someone else) you will remember that it starts with the sentence "The Samaria National Park has traditionally always opened to the public at the beginning of May. In the last few years it has often been possible to enter the gorge of Samaria in April from the bottom part. This depends of course on the weather and the amount of work needed to restore the path after the winter rains. So this varies: it could open a little before the 1st of May, on the 1st of May or later (if the weather is bad or repair work is late). "

So we have two main factors: how much winter damage to the path and how much water in the gorge (possibly blocking access to the lower, narrow part of the gorge.

The winter damage is not really related to the amount of winter rainfall but generally has to do with the intensity of rainfall. It would take only one very heavy localized rain to do serious damage to the path. Whilst we might know early in winter that serious damage has occurred this is something that could happen towards the end of the rainy season and a reason why maintenance work will not start until shortly before the gorge is due to open.

Water levels in the gorge are related to rainfall to some extent but what might be more important is the speed of snow melt (and of course the amount of snow - that's the rainfall connection).  Again, we know how much rain (and snow) falls in the White Mountains over the winter but the speed of snow melt which will play a significant role on water levels in the gorge is related to temperatures and that cannot be predicted. It will take only one short heat wave (common in the spring when you have a few days of sirocco winds blowing) to create very intense snow melt on the mountains surrounding Samaria and bring down huge amounts of water into the gorge.

These two factors make it impossible to set a precise opening date.
I can give predictions for this year* (and they might prove completely wrong but let's have a go anyway): little serious damage to the path - to my knowledge there has not been any extremely  heavy rainstorm this winter. Right now water levels might not be very high but there are huge amounts of snow in the White Mountains and when they start to melt they are going to generate a lot of water. If temperatures climb up gradually things will be OK but if there is any heatwave in April it could play havoc with opening times.

* Please note that the article was originally written in 2012. So these are not the predictions for the current year

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