Extreme Temperatures

Bizarro Earth

Take A Look: A Venice Canal...Frozen

Frozen Venice
© mesebar2/flickr On Feb. 6, 2012, Venice's famed canals were choked with ice.
This winter has been an odd one so far in Italy. Earlier in February, Rome saw a surprisingly heavily snowfall. Later in the month, Venice's famous canals froze, as seen in the above picture.

Until this past weekend, much of North America -- except for Alaska -- has enjoyed a mild winter. The return of La Niña, a naturally occurring climate phenomenon featuring cooler-than-average Pacific Ocean temperatures that influences global weather patterns, has pushed the jet stream north, which is partly to blame for Alaska's snowy winter. But in the European region, the effects of La Niña are relatively weak and variable, according to the Met Office, the UK's weather service.

Regardless, cold air pouring southward into southern and eastern Europe has created a brutal winter. The cold has been blamed for tens to hundreds of deaths, according to news reports.


Emergency food flown into stranded European towns

© Vladimir Gogic/APA Serbian police helicopter delivers food to sailors stuck on stranded boats on the Danube river near Smederevo, Serbia, on Monday, Feb. 13.
Bucharest, Romania - Military planes and police helicopters flew in tons of emergency food to snowbound villages and ships in the Balkans on Monday, after blizzards so fierce that some people had to cut tunnels through 15 feet (4 meters) of snow to get out of their homes.

Since the end of January, Eastern Europe has been pummeled by a record-breaking cold snap and the heaviest snowfall in recent memory. Hundreds of people, many of them homeless, have died in the bitter cold and tens of thousands have been trapped by blocked roads inside homes with little heat.

Authorities declared a state of emergency Monday in eastern Romania, where 6,000 people have been cut off for days. About a dozen major roads were closed, 300 trains canceled and more than 1,000 schools shut down.

In addition to the flights, the defense ministry also sent 8,000 soldiers out clearing roads across Romania and helping those trapped by the overwhelming snow.

Emergency officials in Serbia used helicopters to deliver food and evacuate sailors stuck on icebound boats on the Danube river near the town of Smederevo. They also resupplied a Danube island near Pancevo, north of the capital of Belgrade.


Europe: Snow blocks in tens of thousands as cold death toll rises

A man walks between cars covered with snow in Podgorica.
© AFP/Savo PrelevicA man walks between cars covered with snow in Podgorica.
Snow drifts reaching up to rooftops kept tens of thousands of villagers prisoners in their own homes Saturday as the death toll from Europe's big freeze rose past 550.

More heavy snow fell on the Balkans and in Italy, while the Danube river, already closed to shipping for hundreds of kilometres (miles) because of thick ice, froze over in Bulgaria for the first time in 27 years.

Montenegro's capital of Podgorica was brought to a standstill by snow 50 centimetres (20 inches) deep, a 50-year record, closing the city's airport and halting rail services to Serbia because of an avalanche.

Eight more people were reported to have died in Romania, taking the toll for the country to 65, three in Serbia, one in the Czech Republic and one in Austria.

Polish fire brigade spokesman Pawel Fratcak said Saturday that defective heating had triggered a spate of deadly blazes in houses and apartments, with eight people killed on Friday night and three the night before.


Afghanistan Hit with Heaviest Snows in 15 Years

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More than 20 children have recently died due to the cold weather in Kabul which the Afghan capital has been experiencing its worst cold-snap and heaviest snows in at least 15 years, the National Weather Center said Wednesday. According to an Afghan based TV channel, some of the internally displaced people of the country warn that cold weather may claim more lives. Lack of food and firewood is said to be their main problems in the winter.

This year's severe cold weather has raised concerns among the Afghan population, especially the displaced families. "In this winter, eight children, three old men and women have so far lost their lives," one of the displaced people said. "We cannot pass the winter by burning plastic, paper and pieces of clothes. We really need help.""Living under these tents is very difficult," said another displaced person. "Life is difficult when you don't have anything to eat or burn."The families living under the tents in Kabul are badly in need of help and most of them may perish if not helped."We ask everyone to help these needy families, they can help one family and protect them from cold weather," Head of the Afghan Red Crescent, Fatima Gilani said.

The Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Returnees rejects reports about the death of 20 children due to severe cold in Kabul, a spokesman for the Ministry, Salamuddin Jurat said on Tuesday.The refugees living under the tents have not faced any kinds of losses so far, he added. "The reports are baseless and untrue," the spokesman said.Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health confirms the deaths due to the severe cold in Kabul."Because the cold weather was unprecedented and they were living under the tents, they died before arriving to our health facility during last month," Spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Ghulam Sakhi Kargar told the channel.

There are currently more than 30,000 poor families living under tents in Kabul. There reports of high level of maternity deaths in these camps with 144 out of 1,000 children under five years of age.This comes as the recent avalanches in Badakhshan province claimed lives of more than 40 people.Several houses have reportedly been destroyed in these avalanches. Several routes in Badakhshan, Ghor and Daikundi provinces have been closed due to heavy snow falls.


Europe's Danube Freezes Over, Cold Snap Toll at 460

© Agency France Presse, Vano ShlamovA man shovels snow near the giant icicles on a rock in central Tbilisi
Belgrade - Thick ice closed vast swathes of the Danube on Thursday, crippling shipping on Europe's busiest waterway, as the death toll from bitter cold across the continent rose to at least 460.

As it has every day for nearly two weeks, the brutal cold claimed lives in several countries and killed dozens more in weather-related accidents.

The 2,860-kilometre (1,780-mile) Danube, which flows through 10 countries and is vital for transport, power, irrigation, industry and fishing, was wholly or partially blocked from Austria to its mouth on the Black Sea.


Venice Freezes As Deadly Chill Grips Europe

© UnknownA canal boat struggles to make its way through Venice's frozen waterways
More than 30 more deaths have been reported as a result of the bitterly freezing weather that has swept across Europe.

A dam wall broke and flooded an entire village in southern Bulgaria when snow melted rapidly as a result of heavy rain.

Four residents drowned and four others died when their cars were swept away by the torrent of water.

"There are demolished houses and people in distress," the interior ministry said in a statement.


Cold Spell Affects 40,000 in North China

© AsianewsphotoA resident watches ice cascade outside a building in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Temperatures plummeted to minus 50.7 Celsius after a cold front hit the city last Friday.
A month-long cold front has persisted in north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region and caused havoc for more than 40,000 people, said local authorities Tuesday.

Over 1,600 heads of livestock were killed and cracks appeared on walls in over 8,000 homes due to the freezing weather in the city of Hulunbuir, located in the region's northeast, according to a spokesman with the regional civil affairs department.

The extreme weather has inflicted direct economic losses and apartment renovation costs of 13 million yuan (2.1 million U.S. dollars), said the spokesman, adding that no casualties have been reported.

The cold front began to plague Hulunbuir in late December last year and has tightened its grip on the area since the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday in late January.

Chenbaerhu Banner, administered by Hulunbuir, registered the lowest temperature to date this winter in Inner Mongolia, 51.9 minus degrees Celsius, said the spokesman.

In addition, five banners and cities administered by Hulunbuir have seen their new record low temperatures during the past month and a half, compared with the same period of previous years, he said.

Bizarro Earth

Scientist: "Gulf Loop Current is Broken": Mini Ice Age Predicted for Europe

According to a study produced in July 2010 by high-level scientists in both Italy & the United States, the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has been broken, blocking the normal flow of warm water to the Atlantic Ocean and towards Western Europe. Since the end of the last Ice Age, these warm water currents have produced a relatively mild climate in that area, despite the region's high latitude (distance from the Equator).


Deadly cold snap grips Europe - what's causing the extreme cold?

In stark contrast to the mild winter conditions across much of North America, Europe is currently in the grips of its worst cold snap in at least six years. Arctic air has been spilling out of Siberia into Eastern Europe, bringing more than a foot of snow to Istanbul and temperatures as low as -30ºC (-22ºF) in several neighboring countries.

The brutal cold has killed at least 163 people in central and eastern Europe, many of them homeless. In Ukraine, where the death toll now stands at 101, nearly one thousand people have been hospitalized due to frostbite and hypothermia. Temperatures in some parts of the country dropped as low as -33ºC (-27ºF) on Thursday.
© Meteo-France, Austrian Weather Service, NOAA, weather.comUnofficial low temperatures recorded in major European cities, since Jan. 31
In the mountains of Serbia and Bosnia, some 11,000 villagers remain stranded in their homes after several weeks of heavy snow made roads all but impassable. With over 2 meters (6.5 ft) of snow on the ground, emergency helicopters have begun to airlift food supplies and evacuate villagers in need of medical care. The BBC reports that snow fell across the region almost daily since early January, with more expected over the weekend.


Misery as Italy cold snap death toll rises to 17

© AFP Photo / Alberto PizzoliPeople skies in a street over the ancient forum on February 4, 2012 in Rome.
Snow and treacherous black ice caked the streets of the normally mild-weathered Italian capital Sunday, as snowed-in residents warned of food shortages and the cold snap's death toll rose to 17.

Following what was Rome's heaviest snowfall in 27 years, more than 400 members of the armed forces were called in to help clear the ancient city and surrounding areas.

Snow also fell in Milan and areas of northern Italy, and the bitter cold's toll rose to 17 after three homeless people were found dead, including one at Rome's main train station. The bitter cold that has gripped Europe for more than a week has claimed over 300 lives across the continent in total.

Fierce winds knocked over and killed an elderly woman who was walking to mass in Trieste in northern Italy, three men died shovelling snow and a 19-year-old man was killed in Florence when his car skidded off an icy road and into a river.