Extremely cold weather has not only gripped much of the US during the past couple of days, but severe cold has hit Europe as well with widespread consequences including power and water outages, cut off villages, frozen rivers and lakes, and, unfortunately, numerous deaths.
Here is a sampling of the highlights from Europe in just the past few days:
-the mercury dropped to -22°F in Moscow and -11°F in St. Petersburg. In fact, the Russians celebrated the coldest Orthodox Christmas (January 7th) in 120 years [coldest Orthodox Christmas was more than 130 years ago in 1881 when it reached -31°F].
-parts of southern Italy received more than 3 feet of snow and in Rome the fountains at St. Peter’s Square froze. There was heavy snowfall in central and southeast Italy with numerous airports closed including one as far south as Sicily.
-in Greece, Athens dropped to 32°F while several Greek Islands including Lesbos experienced heavy snowfall. Thessaloniki, Greece fell to 19°F and temperatures plunged to near freezing on the island of Crete well south of the mainland.
-in Sarajevo, Bosnia, temperatures dipped to -16°F, and in the Swiss village of La Brevine, temperatures fell to -22°F.
- in the mountains of southern Poland, temperatures dropped to -22°F and the death toll from the cold has risen to 55 since November 1st.
-in Turkey, a heavy snowstorm paralyzed Istanbul where 25 inches accumulated
-in Romania, a dozen major roads remained closed due to heavy snow and some ferry services between Romania and Bulgaria (across the Danube) were canceled. In fact, the Danube River was slowly freezing in Budapest, a rare sight in recent years.
- in the Czech mountains, several weather stations reported temperatures below -20°F including -30°F in the south-western Sumava mountains.
-in Hungary, record lows were broken on Sunday both nationally and in Budapest registering -19°F and -1°F, respectively.
The combination of the bitter cold in Europe and much of the US has dropped northern hemisphere temperatures sharply (>1°C) in just the past few days relative to the climatological averages (1981-2010).
Meteorologist Paul Dorian