Beast from the east cold spell deep freezes Europe
Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 02 March 2018|13 Jumadul Ukhra 1439
Mediterranean beaches blanketed in white. Blizzards and “life-threatening” conditions in normally snowless areas of Britain, where there is also a developing natural gas shortage. Motorists stranded overnight on a highway in Scotland.
Since last Friday, Europe has been locked in a Siberian weather pattern that has pummeled the Continent with snow, freezing rain and brutal wind chills, paralyzing cities unaccustomed to more than a thin wet film of snow and killing dozens of people, mainly older and homeless people.
Countries across Europe shut schools and rushed to shelter homeless people on Wednesday as a deadly blast of Siberian weather dubbed the “Beast from the East” kept the mercury far below zero.
The death toll rose to at least 46 since Friday as a 75-year-old Dutchman went out to skate in the western village of Hank, only for the ice to crack beneath his feet.
Three children and two adults also had to be rescued in similar incidents in the skating-mad Netherlands.
The victims of the brutal cold also include 18 people killed in Poland, six in the Czech Republic, five in Lithuania, four each in France and Slovakia, two each in Italy, Serbia and Romania and one in Slovenia.
Homeless people account for many of the dead, and cities across Europe have been racing to open emergency shelters to protect people sleeping rough.
In Germany, the national homeless association urged shelters to open during the day and not just at night.
“You can die of cold during the day too,” its chief Werena Rosenke warned.
Authorities are also urging people to look out for elderly relatives and neighbours after a French woman in her nineties was found frozen to death outside her retirement home.
In Paris, some 50 regional lawmakers were to spend on Wednesday night on the streets to protest the “denial of dignity” suffered by those without roofs over their heads.
And in the northern port of Calais, authorities were launching emergency plans to shelter migrants who camp out near the coast hoping to stow away on trucks bound for Britain.
Schools were shut across Kosovo, western Bosnia and much of Albania, as well as in parts of Britain, Italy and Portugal.
Temperatures again plunged below -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) overnight in numerous parts of Europe — even hitting -36C in Glattalp, 1,850 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level in the Swiss mountains.
Ahead of a predicted thaw towards the end of the week, both Belgium and Switzerland marked their coldest nights of the winter so far.
And in the usually balmy south of France, residents in Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz were heading out with skis to zoom down the snowy streets of the beach resorts.
Europe’s cold snap comes as the Arctic experiences record-high temperatures, prompting scientists to ask if global warming may be playing a role in turning things upside down.
Dubbed the “Siberian bear” by the Dutch and the “snow cannon” by Swedes, the icy blast has played havoc with transport networks.
In Ireland, anxious residents were hoarding bread and milk as they braced for Thursday’s arrival of a storm expected to bring the heaviest snowfall in decades.
“It’s fair to say the people of Ferrybank and Slieverue are taking the #Beastfromtheeast serious,” said one Twitter post alongside a picture of empty supermarket shelves.
The National Emergency Coordination Committee has issued a red alert, ordering everyone in the provinces of Munster and Leinster to stay indoors from 4 p.m. on Thursday until noon Friday.
And Dublin’s travellers were already facing major disruptions, with Ryanair cancelling all flights in and out of the capital for the rest of the day.
Kosovo announced restrictions on electricity usage lasting between one and three hours, due to a surge in power consumption mirrored across Europe as people turn up the thermostat.
Even professionals are feeling the chill.
In Amstetten in northwest Austria which is hosting international championships for ice stock — a sport similar to curling — organizers moved the opening ceremony inside due to the cold.
Austrians were reserving particular sympathy for Ludwig Rasser and Norbert Daxbacher, two employees at the Sonnblick weather station 3,109 metres above sea level.
Handed the honour of having the “coldest job in Austria” by the Oesterreich tabloid, Rasser and Daxbacher are charged with heading out to measure the temperature three times a day.
The process takes an hour in temperatures of -32C — which “with the windchill feels like -60,” Rasser said.
Source – SG| Gulf News