Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 7 News List

European cities brace for plunge in temperatures


A woman yesterday takes a picture as it snows on St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Photo: AFP

Rome yesterday woke to its first snowfall in six years as chilling winds from Siberia swept across Europe, bringing freezing temperatures that have claimed at least four lives, closed schools and disrupted travel.

The “Beast from the East,” as the phenomenon has been dubbed by the British media, is expected to bring cold air from Russia over the next few days that could make it feel even chillier than thermometers indicate.

Rome saw its first snowfall since February 2012, with about 3cm to 4cm settling on the ground on Sunday. Schools were closed as local authorities opened several train stations as emergency shelters for the homeless.

It was 0°C in Rome yesterday morning, with a low of minus-6°C forecast until Wednesday — but no more snow was forecast.

Two people have died of the cold in Poland since Saturday, bringing the winter’s toll to 48 since November, according to the country’s center for national security.

Temperatures plunged to minus-26.2°C overnight in the northeastern town of Goldap, with daytime forecasts predicting lows of up to minus 11°C on Monday in eastern Poland.

In France, where temperatures were forecast to drop to minus-10°C and feel as low as minus-18°C over the coming days, emergency shelters were opened for the homeless.

A homeless man in the city of Valence was found dead on Sunday, after another man was on Friday found dead in his cabin in the suburbs of Paris. Both deaths were believed to be linked to the cold.

The UK Meteorological Office yesterday issued a yellow weather warning and amber warnings for today and tomorrow, with more snow expected in eastern England.

“This week looks like being the coldest period we have had in the UK for a number of years,” the office said on Sunday.

“Parts of England and Wales are likely to see their coldest spell of weather since at least 2013 — perhaps 1991,” office chief forecaster Frank Saunders said.

In Berlin, where at least 3,000 people are estimated to be living on the streets, overnight shelters for the homeless were 95 percent full, and overcrowding was feared in coming nights, as temperatures drop as low as minus-20°C, local public radio RBB reported.

Undeterred by the icy conditions, surfers in wetsuits rode Munich’s famous continuous wave of the Isar River’s Eisbach channel on Sunday morning, ZDF television showed.

Russia itself was not spared, with the Russian Hydrometeorological Center warning of “abnormally cold” temperatures of between minus-14°C during the day and minus-24°C overnight.

In Sweden, where the cold snap coincided with schools’ winter sports break, most were happy to see the snow, with temperatures ranging from minus-5°C in Stockholm to minus-20°C in the mountains near Ostersund, where many Swedes were spending ski holidays.

However, the snowfall did cause about 20 flights to be cancelled at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, primarily to European destinations, airport operator Swedavia said.

In Slovenia, the motorway connecting capital Ljubljana and the port of Koper had to be closed near the coast due to the infamous “bora” winter wind that has been blowing with speeds of more than 100kph.

Special cross-country skiing courses were set up in parks in Vienna as temperatures dropped to as low as minus-20°C across Austria.

The Danube river had frozen over in some places, but Vienna authorities warned against skating, saying that “there is a large probability that the ice will break.

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