Big freeze tightens grip in Europe

2012-02-03 14:08

Kiev - Temperatures plunged to new lows in Europe where a week-long cold snap has now claimed more than 200 lives as forecasters warned that the big freeze would tighten its grip at the weekend.

In the Czech Republic, the mercury dropped to as low as -38.1° overnight while even Rome was sprinkled in snow.

In the last seven days, a total of 218 people have died from the cold weather, according to an AFP tally.

Ukraine's emergencies ministry said that the cold snap had now claimed 101 lives, substantially raising the previous toll of 63. Sixty-four of the victims died on the streets, it added.

Almost 1 600 people have requested medical attention for frostbite and hypothermia.

As they try to prevent the toll from rising even further, authorities announced that 2 940 shelters had been set up across the country where people could find warmth and food and another 100 would be opened in the next hours.

River frozen

However there was no sign of an immediate let-up, with forecasters saying temperatures would hover between -25° to 30° at night and -16° to 21° in the day.

The ferocious temperatures killed eight more people over the last 24 hours in Poland, bringing the death toll to 37, since the deep freeze began a week ago, police said.

Temperatures plunged to as low as -35° in parts of Poland - but even that was three degrees warmer than the temperatures in the southwestern Sumava region of the Czech Republic.

Temperatures have been so cold in Bulgaria that parts of the River Danube have been frozen over.

Sixty percent of the surface near the port of Ruse was iced over, severely hindering navigation, the Danube exploration agency said.

Elsewhere in Bulgaria, another six people were found dead from the cold, bringing the overall tally to 16 in the last week, according to a tally of local media. No official figures have been released.

Schools closed

Most of the dead in the European Union's poorest country were people in villages, found frozen to death on the side of the road or in their unheated homes, the reports said.

More than 1 000 Bulgarian schools remained closed for a third day on Friday amid fresh snowfalls and piercing winds in the northeast of the country.

Residents in Rome experienced only their second day of snow in the last 15 years. Up to 5cm of snow fell in suburbs of the Italian capital, although there was little precipitation in the city centre.

Temperatures in the Alpine region of Piedmont in northern Italy went as low as -30°.

The interior ministry advised car drivers to avoid regions of central Italy due to the heavy snowfall and traffic was backed up on some motorways.

However trains resumed normal service across the country except in and around Bologna and on a local line near Rome, the state railways said in a statement after days of delays that affected thousands of passengers.

Freeze to continue

Three people have died due to the extreme weather in recent days, including a homeless man found in the centre of Milan on Thursday.

Snow and freezing temperatures are forecast to continue into Saturday.

Swathes of Britain were bracing for snow after temperatures plunged to -11° overnight in Chesham, southeast England.

Forecasters said many parts of the country would see several centimetres of snow, although it was likely to be powdery and would melt before long.

The Met Office said there was a danger that the cold weather would catch people off-guard after the warmer-than-normal winter so far.

Biting winds

"This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services," a spokesperson said.

Bright winter sunshine bathed two thirds of France, bringing a note of cheer.

But around a third of the country, mainly in the east and centre, remained exposed to biting winds from the Baltic region, with an alert in place for low temperatures.

The French have cranked up their heating systems, and on Monday are expected to break an all time power consumption record set in 2010.

In Brittany and on the Cote d'Azur, where the French power grid is least efficient, consumers have been asked to turn off appliances for at least four hours per day to avoid blackouts.

  • Getafix - 2012-02-03 14:19

    Global Warming?

      Trevor - 2012-02-03 14:29

      Climate Change !

      Paul - 2012-02-03 16:15

      @Trevor Please explain to me how man made CO2 causes cooling? I think the name change from global warming to climate change is a bit like Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC because 'fried' food became unpopular. They realised things aren't actually warming any more, so they went for a name that covers all their bases but continues their "green" movement. Meanwhile, they have political and economic hidden agendas. This is about politics not science!

      Trevor - 2012-02-03 19:11

      @Paul You're problem is that you are thinking with a political/financial brain instead of a scietific brain ! All you can see is how you are being screwed! CO2 along with all the Green house gasses that mankind have emmited since the beginning of the industrial revolution has caused a "global warming" effect on the planet. now i put the global warming in inverted commas becase people like you who dont think scientifically think well everything getting warmer !. the warming of the planet CHANGES the way normal geographic forces affect the world ! sea currents air currents are out of wack ! you have to agree with me when you see weather of the kind we have been experiencing is not of the usual kind ! and yes i will agree that weather fluxuates over time! Now remeber your schooling weather and climate are two different animals ! in Winter which by the way Europe and Asia has Been unusually warm followed by this intense cold spell is not normal I would rather pay green tax than having my taxes stolen by politically brained people ! think of your children and stop thinking about your pocket ! The world is in CRISIS and if you dont pull the wool of your eyes we wont be here long enough to debate this ! Moan all you like i am out to save the only known liveable rock in the universe ! you worry about your bank balance and see if you lilve long enough to appreciate it !

      Paul - 2012-02-03 23:21

      @Trevor It's not money that I am concerned about it's humanity. But I suspect that money/power is the real issue that is driving this issue. Like you I used to believe in man made global warming. But doing some research into the science behind the theory, I found that things just didn't add up to all the "green" propaganda. Consider this: In a reversal of the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory, increases in CO2 lags rising temperatures by about 800 years- and This fact on its own blows AGW out of the waters. Human activity contributes less than 1% of the total greenhouse effect (which is supposedly the primary cause of global warming). This is a very informative article with an explanation of the numbers involved- Have a look at the scientific data and see if it matches up with the theory which is based on IPCC computer models.

      Syd - 2012-02-04 17:40

      Short memory. This has happened before. Nothing's changed.

      Soetdoring - 2012-02-04 23:57

      Global cooling!!! Hopefully people will now realise how devastating global cooling can be. With the price of electricity rocketing, God help us that something similar does not hit us during the next winter. The consequences could be disastrous to poor people.

  • Moss - 2012-02-03 14:26

    What happen to global warming.....

      Linda - 2012-02-03 14:38

      Mother nature is p@##%^ off!!!!!!

      Trevor - 2012-02-03 14:47

      apparently your rolling stone is clutterred with moss ! Global warming leads to changed weather patterns all round the world < storms become more powerful , unpredictable and dangerous ! why dont you read up on it before making stupid comments

      Johana - 2012-02-03 16:07

      Not so long ago Global Warming preachers were talking that Europe will turn ito the desert and polar caps will melt completely. Now is called Climate Change religion. Weather is quite normal, but this is nice oportunity to tax citizens even more in the name of the new religion.

      Trevor - 2012-02-03 19:22

      @ johanna < i understand your concern on being taxed more because all our taxes are being re_appropiated to our politicians ! but i urge u not to think so one dimensionally ! Earth is as we know it the only habitable planet we know of and to continue to treat it as a playground is just horrific ! we pollutte and destroy everything as if it is replaceable _ IT IS NOT ! and if you think that Mankind couldn't affect a planet think again !

  • Janice - 2012-02-03 14:43


  • Slowboat - 2012-02-03 15:53

    Minus 14 in Stuttgart this morning, and even with the sun shining it was minus 8 at lunch time...

  • StarStruck - 2012-02-03 15:54

    -35 in some countries. That is unheard of. Hectic stuff!! I must say that here in the south it could have been a lot worse last winter judging by Europe at the moment.

  • colin.dovey - 2012-02-03 17:31

    Give me Sunny South Africa any day :-)

  • Syd - 2012-02-04 17:44

    So Trevor, you've been brainwashed too Boet. CO2 is heavier than air so cannot rise up and become a greenhouse gas. Plants breathe it in and turn it into lovely oxygen for us to breathe. The problem, if there is one, is that greedy, money-grubbing fools are cutting down trees by the million. Planet earth will do what it has always done irrespective of mankind's puny efforts one way or the other.

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