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Extreme Temperatures

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Helicopters rescue Europeans stranded by snow

Belgrade, Serbia - Rescue helicopters evacuated dozens of people from snow-blocked villages in Serbia and Bosnia and air-lifted in emergency food and medicine as a severe cold spell kept Eastern Europe in its icy grip.

The death toll from the cold rose to 79 on Wednesday and emergency crews worked overtime as temperatures sank to minus 32.5 C (minus 26.5 F) in some areas.

Parts of the Black Sea froze near the Romanian coastline and the rare snow fell on Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea. In Bulgaria, 16 towns recorded their lowest temperatures since records started 100 years ago.
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© AP/Efrem Lukatsky
A Ukrainian man, covered with plastic sheeting to form a tent for protection from the wind and cold, fishes through an ice hole on the Dnipro river outside Cherkasy, central Ukraine. The death toll from a severe cold spell in Eastern Europe rose to 71 Wednesday Feb. 1 2012.
In central Serbia, choppers pulled out 12 people, including nine who went to a funeral but then could not get back over icy, snow-choked roads. Two more people froze to death in the snow and two others are missing, bringing that nation's death toll to five.

"The situation is dramatic, the snow is up to five meters (16 1/2 feet) high in some areas, you can only see rooftops," said Dr. Milorad Dramacanin, who participated in the helicopter evacuations.

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Severe Weather - Serbia: Six Die in -36 Degree Freeze

Kosovo on alert - Bosnian villages isolated.

The death toll from the wave of freezing weather across Serbia over recent days has risen to six. The body of a man was found near to his home in Topola, south of Belgrade. Before then, another five had died across the country as temperatures sank to a record -36 degrees in the southern highlands of Pesterska. In the city of Sjenica, thermometers stood at -29, while in Belgrade the temperature at 7am today was -12. A state of emergency has been declared in around fifteen areas. Dozens have been admitted to hospital with broken bones following falls on the ice. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the southern highlands of Pesterska was -39.4 degrees in 1986.

The cold has also caused emergency conditions in Kosovo, where temperatures dropped to -22 degrees last night. Snow and ice are causing traffic problems in some parts of the country although the main routes are free. Low temperatures led to electricity blackouts in some areas, although no deaths have been reported.

Igloo

Homeless Hard Hit as Death Toll From Severe Cold Spell in Eastern Europe Hits 58

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© Associated Press
The woman looks through an icy window on a bus in Kiev, Ukraine.
Kiev, Ukraine - Dozens of homeless people have died in an Eastern Europe cold snap, and some analysts blame a Soviet-era legacy of viewing the homeless as those who need to be punished instead of helped.

Temperatures have plunged to minus 27 C (minus 17 F) in some areas. At least 58 people have died overall in the past week, while hundreds have sought medical help for hypothermia and frostbite. Snow and ice have disrupted traffic and power in some parts.

Snowflake

Dozens freeze to death as extreme cold grips Europe

"We are getting some 'real' winter this week," meteorologist says

Kiev, Ukraine - A severe and snowy cold snap has killed at least 48 people across central and eastern Europe.

Officials have responded with measures ranging from opening shelters to dispensing hot tea, with particular concern for the homeless and elderly.
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© Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images
An official gives out hot tea to an elderly man at a newly opened shelter in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Monday. Temperatures have plunged to as low as minus 23 C (minus 10 F) in the country.
Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that the number of people who died of hypothermia in recent days reached 30.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said on its website that most of the victims were found frozen on the streets. On Monday, officials had put the death toll at 18 people.

Temperatures plunged to minus 23 C (minus 10 F) in the capital Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine as schools and kindergartens closed and authorities set up hundreds of heated tents for the homeless.

Officials have appealed to people to stay indoors.

Comment: Major dips in temperatures are happening elsewhere as well: Deep freeze grips much of Alaska


Igloo

Severe Cold Snap, Heavy Snow Kills at Least 36 People in Eastern Europe, 2 More Missing

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© The Associated Press/The Canadian Press/Selcan Hacaoglu
A couple walks on a snow covered road near the Lake of Eymir, Ankara, Turkey, on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. Winter temperatures and recent snowfall has partially paralyzed life in Turkey.
A severe and snowy cold snap across central and eastern Europe has left at least 36 people dead, cut off power to towns, and snarled traffic. Officials are responding with measures ranging from opening shelters to dispensing hot tea, with particular concern for the homeless and elderly.

This part of Europe is not unused to cold, but the current freeze, which spread to most of the region last week, came after a period of relatively mild weather. Many were shocked when temperatures in some parts plunged Monday to minus 20 Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit).

"Just as we thought we could get away with a spring-like winter ..." lamented Jelena Savic, 43, from the Serbian capital of Belgrade, her head wrapped in a shawl with only eyes uncovered. "I'm freezing. It's hard to get used to it so suddenly."

Officials have appealed to people to stay indoors and be careful. Police searched for the homeless to make sure they didn't freeze to death. In some places, heaters will be set up at bus stations.

Info

Unusual Volcanic Episode Rapidly Triggered Little Ice Age, Researchers Find

© Gifford Miller, University of Colorado
University of Colorado, Boulder Professor Gifford Miller collects dead plant samples from beneath a Baffin Island ice cap. Miller led a new study, to be published in in Geophysical Research Letters, which indicates the Little Ice Age began roughly A.D. 1275 and was triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism that cooled the atmosphere.

Washington, DC - New evidence from northern ice sheets suggests that volcanic eruptions triggered the multiple-century cool spell known as the Little Ice Age, and pinpoints the start of the climate shift to the final decades of the 13th century. Researchers have long known that the Little Ice Age began sometime after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century. But, estimates of its onset have ranged from the 13th to the 16th century.

According to the new study, the Little Ice Age began abruptly between 1275 and 1300 A.D., triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self- perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback in the North Atlantic Ocean, according to Gifford Miller, a geological sciences professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder), who led the study. The primary evidence comes from radiocarbon dates from dead vegetation emerging from rapidly melting icecaps on Baffin Island, combined with ice and sediment core data from the poles and Iceland, and from sea-ice climate model simulations, said Miller.

He and his colleagues will publish their findings on 31 January in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

During the cool spell, advancing glaciers in mountain valleys in northern Europe destroyed towns. Famous paintings from the period depict people ice-skating on the Thames River in London and canals in the Netherlands, places that were ice-free before and after the Little Ice Age. There is evidence also that the Little Ice Age affected places far from Europe, including South America and China.

While scientific estimates regarding the onset of the Little Ice Age extend from the 13th century to the 16th century, there has been little consensus, said Miller. "The dominant way scientists have defined the little Ice Age is by the expansion of big valley glaciers in the Alps and in Norway," said Miller. "But the time in which European glaciers advanced far enough to demolish villages would have been long after the onset of the cold period," said Miller, a Fellow at his university's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Igloo

US - 62 below: Deep freeze grips much of Alaska

Even if it has been warmer than usual in much of the United States, there's no denying Alaska is seeing a real winter, even by its standards.

Anchorage is shivering through one of its coldest January's on record, while in Fairbanks, folks preparing for a sled dog race were being tested by temperatures nearly 50 degrees below zero. Farther inland, Fort Yukon has ranged from minus 50 to minus 62 degrees over the last three days, getting close to its record of minus 78.
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© Dan Joling/AP
Downtown Anchorage, Alaska, has seen a snowy and icy winter, including this scene from Jan. 18.
Anchorage's average temperature for January has been 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the Alaska Daily News reported. That's well below its average of 15 degrees, and only three other years (1947, 1925 and 1920) have been colder, National Weather Service data show.

It's so cold for Anchorage, the Daily News reported, that:
  • Cross country ski practices by the Junior Nordic League have been canceled due to temps dipping below the official cut-off of minus 4 degrees.
  • Tow trucks are so busy helping folks with dead car batteries that it can take up to four hours to get service.
  • Some schools have had only a handful of outdoor recess days this month.
In Fairbanks, where the Yukon Quest sled dog race starts on Saturday, some racers have had a hard time moving their trucks around due to a freeze that kept engines from starting, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Fort Yukon, for its part, dipped to 62 degrees below zero on Saturday, then hit 59 below on Sunday, the National Weather Service reported.

The deep freeze is in addition to the record snow and blizzard conditions seen earlier this month in towns like Cordova and Valdez. Even Anchorage is on track to see a record snow season, having received more than twice its average amount so far.

Snowman

US: Snowy owls soar south from Arctic in rare mass migration

© U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called "unbelievable."

Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.

A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.

"What we're seeing now -- it's unbelievable," said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana.

Igloo

Southern India Shivers: 7 die in AP; Karnataka Coldest in 100 Years

© n/a
Hyderabad/Bangalore: The unprecedented cold wave sweeping across southern India has claimed seven lives so far in Andhra Pradesh and broken century-old temperature records at several places in neighbouring Karnataka.

Chilly winds blew across coastal and north Telangana districts, claiming the lives of four elderly persons at Gudipudi village near Sattenapalle in Guntur district on Monday. Two women each died in Bapatla and Visakhapatnam.

In interior Karnataka, the harsh weather has broken records. Madikeri registered its lowest temperature in 132 years on Monday, with the minimum dropping to 4.8 degrees Celsius.

At 7.7 degrees Celsius, Mysore recorded its coldest day in 120 years and Bangalore saw its coldest day of January in 19 years with minimum temperature touching 12 degrees Celsius. In the plains, Belgaum was the coldest at 7.2 degrees.

Igloo

Australia: Cold snap sets new record low temperatures

© Gillian Dobson
A message is written on a car windscreen after Mt Buller in the Victorian Alps received a sprinkling of snow on January 11
The weather bureau says an extreme cold front has broken a series of low temperature records for Canberra, Goulburn and the Snowy Mountains.

The southern tablelands and Victoria's Alpine region have also been hit by the summer chill.

A rapidly moving cold front from Antarctica moved though Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT yesterday.

The icy and changeable weather delivered a low of -4 degrees Celsius and a dusting of snow to the Snowy Mountains.