Snow falls in Rome as Europe hit by icy weather

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ROME, Feb 26, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Rome woke to its first snowfall in six
years on Monday 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 will make it feel even chillier than thermometers indicate.

Rome saw its first snowfall since February 2012, with about three to four
centimetres (1.2 to 1.6 inches) settling on the ground Sunday.

Schools were closed in the Italian capital as local authorities opened
several train stations as emergency shelters for the homeless.

It was zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rome on Monday
morning, with a low of minus six Celsius forecast until Wednesday — but no
more snow is forecast.

In the north Italian city of Turin, heavy snow had caused a Serie A
football game between Juventus and Atalanta to be postponed on Sunday.

Two people have died of the cold in Poland since Saturday, bringing the
winter’s toll to 48 since November, according to the centre 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.

– Fears for homeless –

In France, where temperatures were forecast to drop to minus 10 degrees
Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) 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 in the country’s southeast was found
dead on Sunday, after another man was found dead in his cabin in the suburbs
of Paris on Friday. Both deaths were believed to have been linked to the
cold.

Britain’s weather service, the Met Office, issued a yellow weather warning
no Monday and amber warnings for Tuesday and Wednesday, 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 Met said on Sunday.

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

– Surf’s up in Munich –

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, reported local public radio RBB.

Undeterred by the icy conditions, surfers in thick 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 its meteorological service 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
5C 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’s Arlanda airport, primarily to European destinations, according to
airport operator Swedavia.

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 100 kilometres per hour.

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 “there is a large probability that the ice
will break”.

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