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Big freeze in Europe

Last week a big freeze gripped Europe which resulted in travel chaos and school closures in many countries.

When a cold front from Siberia hit central Europe, many regions were covered in snow and ice within a few hours. The harsh weather conditions started on Thursday with blizzards and freezing temperatures down to minus 40 degrees Celsius/minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit in some places.

Most southern parts of Europe experienced snowfall although winters there are usually mild. The Italian capital city of Rome, experienced up to 10 cm/4 inches of snow. Many of the city's famous water fountains were coated in ice which was a rare sight. In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, the lowest temperatures in 50 years were recorded.

Transport delays and disruption of regular train and flight schedules were experienced in many European cities. Airports in Amsterdam/Netherlands and Geneva/Switzerland were among those closed for several hours because of snow and ice.

Poor households, homeless people as well as refugees and asylum seekers struggled with the extremely low temperatures. Many cities opened shelters for the homeless and people who struggled to keep warm. The icy conditions claimed the lives of more than 55 people in the various countries. More than 20 people died in the Ukraine and Poland where the recorded temperatures were as low as minus 26 degrees Celsius/minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit!

Meanwhile in the UK, the cold spell still has a grip on remote parts of the country. In Cumbria, a region in northwestern England, an army helicopter had to drop emergency supplies including coal and firewood. In some villages people have been stranded without help for more than five days.

The big freeze hits Europe

However, the wintery conditions were welcomed by some fearless ice skating enthusiasts. The canals in Amsterdam were open to ice skaters who enjoyed the icy waterways. In other countries skaters welcomed the rare opportunity to skate on frozen lakes and rivers.

source: Reuters and The Telegraph

image: Photography by Adri/


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