31 Jan 2012

Severe cold kills dozens in eastern Europe

Weather Presenter

Eastern parts of Europe are in the grip of a severe cold spell that has killed dozens of people, with temperatures dipping below -20C.

Snowy Car Kosovo

After weeks of abnormally mild weather across Poland, a huge drop in temperature has been experienced over the past week, with temperatures expected to fall as low as -30C in some parts of the country during the next few days.

So far, the intense cold has claimed the lives of 20 people who have frozen to death – most of them homeless who were unable to get into shelters.

Other parts of eastern Europe have also had very low temperatures. In central Serbia three people died from exposure to the extreme cold at the weekend, with another death in neighbouring Bulgaria.

The wintry weather has also affected Turkey, with heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures causing havoc on the roads of Istanbul during Tuesday.

There was significant disruption, with cars, ferries and buses grinding to a halt and commuters forced to walk to work. Air travel was also affected, with over 180 flight cancelled at Ataturk international airport.

According to Turkish weather authorities, Istanbul experienced its coldest day in around 30 years.

The cold weather across Europe at the moment is being caused by an area of high pressure across Siberia that has extended its influence westwards across the continent.

This is bringing severe cold, with many national weather services in Europe issuing extreme low temperature warnings.

Temperatures are expected to widely drop to minus double figures as far west as Germany during the next few days, with a brisk easterly wind giving significant wind chill and accentuating the severe cold.

Heavy snow is also likely across the Balkans, Italy, Greece and Turkey for the rest of the week, as an area of low pressure moves into the very cold air. Blizzards are expected, especially across mountainous areas as the wind strengthens.