2 Feb 2012

Severe cold claims more lives across Europe

Weather Presenter

A severe cold spell continues to affect much of Europe at the moment, with more lives claimed by freezing weather.

Snowy Football Pitch Bologna

At least 89 people have died with temperatures in some parts of the continent falling below -30C at night and hovering around -18C by day.

Eastern parts of Europe have been hit hardest by the very cold air that has been flooding westwards out of Siberia, which, in some places, has been accompanied by a brisk wind – accentuating the cold with significant wind chill.

The severe cold spell has come after what has been a relatively mild winter across much of the continent, with temperatures only a few weeks ago well above average.

In Ukraine 43 people have died in the past five days in what its emergency ministry is describing as the coldest winter in six years.

Temperatures in Ukraine have fallen as low as -33C in recent nights and hundreds of heated tents have been put up to shelter the homeless.

Severe cold

In neighbouring Poland a further five people have died as a result of the cold weather. Poland’s gas company PGNiG has resorted to restricting industrial deliveries in order to meet increases in heating demand.

As well as severe cold, the Balkans is being hit by heavy snow and strong winds. In Slovenia, winds of up to 112mph blew roofs off buildings prompting authorities to close schools.

Bosnia has been badly affected by heavy snowfall, with security forces using helicopters to ferry in supplies to cut off areas and evacuate the elderly.

Further westwards, Italy and southern France are also suffering from the cold conditions. Snow has caused disruption to road, rail and air, with long delays and cancellations.

Snowy palm trees

Wintry weather has even reached the normally fine and relatively warm Mediterranean coast of southern France. Palm trees in the city of Marseille were covered in snow and children given a rare opportunity to see a white landscape.

The latest forecast suggests that the very cold weather is going to persist across much of Europe well into next week. Temperatures are expected to fall below -20C at night and remain around -10C during the daytime.

Further heavy snow and blizzards are also expected – especially across Italy and the Balkans.