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Extreme Temperatures

Igloo

Cold Winter Kills at Least 40 in Afghanistan

Kabul Snow Storm
© AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq
An Afghan man, his head covered with his scarf, walks down the street during a snowstorm in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012.
Kabul - More than 40 people, most of them children, have frozen to death in what has been Afghanistan's coldest winter in years, an Afghan health official said Monday.

The government has recorded 41 deaths from freezing in three provinces - Kabul, Ghor and Badakhshan, said Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Sakhi Kargar.

All but three or four of those deaths were children, he said. Twenty-four of the deaths were in the capital of Kabul, mostly in camps for people who have fled fighting elsewhere in the country.

Kabul has been experiencing its worst cold snap and heaviest snowfall in 15 years, according to the National Weather Center.

Snowflake

Ukraine's death toll from cold spell reaches 151

In most cases, people died because they were under the influence of alcohol, which increases the risk of hypothermia
Image
© Anatolii Stepanov/Reuters
People spend time in a snow-covered park in Kiev Feb. 16, 2012.
Kiev - Health officials say 151 people have died in the Ukraine during Eastern Europe's record-breaking cold spell, with alcohol regularly a contributing factor. The health ministry said Thursday that nearly 4,000 others have been hospitalized with hypothermia and frostbite.

Emergency officials say in 90 percent of cases, people died because they were under the influence of alcohol, which increases the risk of hypothermia and generally decreases a person's ability to feel and respond to the cold. The cold spell has prompted authorities to close nurseries, schools and colleges across the country. Heavy snowfalls have also caused power outages and trapped hundreds of vehicles on motorways in southern Ukraine, as well as several ships in the Sea of Azov.

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.

Snowflake

Emergency food flown into stranded European towns

Image
© Vladimir Gogic/AP
A 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.

Igloo

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

A man walks between cars covered with snow in Podgorica.
© AFP/Savo Prelevic
A 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.

Snowflake

Afghanistan Hit with Heaviest Snows in 15 Years

Afgans
© n/a
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.

Igloo

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

Image
© Agency France Presse, Vano Shlamov
A 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.

Stop

Venice Freezes As Deadly Chill Grips Europe

Image
© Unknown
A 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.

Snowflake

Cold Spell Affects 40,000 in North China

Image
© Asianewsphoto
A 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).