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Published Thursday, March 1, 2018
A blast of Siberian weather called the “Beast from the east” by UK, "Siberian bear" by the Dutch and "snow cannon" by Swedes has plunged Europe into freezing temperatures that are colder than the Arctic Circle.
While mayors across Europe are launching emergency schemes to shelter homeless people and prevent more freezing deaths, researchers in the Arctic fear ripple effects, saying the storms have “raised temperatures in the region close to the melting point, hindered sea ice growth while its associated strong winds pushed the sea ice edge back, leading to a record low spring sea ice pack in 2016,” according to the researchers.
Dozens of roads were closed and trains and flights cancelled across the continent. Hundreds of schools suspended classes and some businesses advised workers to stay at home.
Many regions were put on alert as the frigid temperatures were expected to continue until the end of the week.
In Belgium, police were allowed to detain people overnight if they refused to go to shelters.
At least 24 people have died across Europe as the continent remains in the grip of a Siberian cold snap that has seen snow fall in Spain and southern France.
Cities across the continent have been providing emergency shelter and relief to rough sleepers who have accounted for most of the deaths as temperatures fell as low as -24C in parts of Germany and -29C in Estonia.
Bilbao, Barcelona, Santander and San Sebastian in Spain all awoke to heavy flurries of snow on Wednesday as much of the northern part of the country suffered under an amber weather warning.
Rome saw its first snowfall in six years while Naples had its heaviest snowfall in decades. On Tuesday, snow was seen on the excavation site of the ancient city of Pompeii, near Naples in southern Italy - where the average February temperature is 6-14C.
Germany's meteorological office, meanwhile, recorded a temperature of -30C at Zugspitze, the country's highest peak, and lows well below -10C in most of the country.
In Britain, hundreds of schools were closed and there were delays on roads, railways and at airports on one of the coldest days the island has experienced at this time of year for almost three decades.
Temperatures fell to -12 degrees in some rural areas, while Britain’s weather service warned of up to 40cm of snow in higher areas of Scotland.
In France, the national weather agency, Météo France, put a large part of the country on alert for dangerous levels of snow and ice, as well as violent wind. Urging people to limit their movement, Météo France said snowfall would continue until Friday.
Snow has blocked many roads and damaged power pylons across Albania, leading to power cuts in many rural areas.
Freezing weather also limited traffic and closed down schools in Croatia, with snow falling even along the Adriatic coast.
The mountainous Croatian regions have been struggling over the last few days and volunteers have been trying to reach isolated, elderly, households to provide them with food, medicines and firewood supplies.
A high-level red alert for strong snowfall has been declared for two regions in Bulgaria, where 40 cm of snow is expected as well as blizzards and snowdrifts.
The vast anti-cyclone covering the Scandinavian peninsula is actually really big and spreads across to Poland. And so the head of this anti-cyclone brought cold from the European part of Russia to Eastern Europe.
Schools were shut across Kosovo, western Bosnia and much of Albania, as well as in parts of Britain, Italy and Portugal.
Temperatures again plunged below -20 Celsius overnight in numerous parts of Europe - even hitting -36C in Glattalp in the Swiss mountains.