Death toll rises as European freeze goes on

Friday 03rd Feb 2012 by theWeather Club

Image: Vardaro

The death toll from the freezing weather that has been gripping Europe has continued to climb as officials from the Ukraine say that the number of victims had pass 100 since the cold weather first hit last Friday. Hundreds have also been admitted to hospital suffering from frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related conditions. The country's shelters are feeling the strain as up to 24,000 people have flooded the facilities looking for an escape from the brutal outside temperatures.

The deaths only represent some of the fatalities across Europe as one of the biggest cold weather systems seen in recent years has sent temperatures across Europe plunging as low as -40°C. As the death toll in Poland continued to rise the Interior Affairs Ministry said that not all the deaths were the result of exposure. Some had been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heaters.

Like other parts of the continent, Poland had been having a relatively mild winter until temperatures plummeted suddenly on Friday 28th January from just below 0°C to -26C°. All across Europe the sudden drop in temperatures have been causing chaos. Troops in Romania have been deployed to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards, and parts of the Black Sea froze solid. The Serbian authorities have said that about 11,000 villagers have been cut off by snow and blizzards, describing the situation in the country's south western region as very serious. Heavy snow has also caused widespread disruption in northern and central Italy, with weather experts saying it is the coldest week in the country for 27 years. Heavy snow has also hit Turkey, with 50cm falling in Istanbul on Wednesday, causing an avalanche which killed a woman in her home.

The freezing temperatures are being maintained by a huge high pressure system sitting over large parts of the continent, which has led to freezing air from Siberia sweeping across the continent. This high pressure system is also blocking low pressure systems to the west from coming in with the cloud cover that would help break the cold spell. While the UK will suffer the effects of this giant system for a few days, the bad news for parts of continental Europe is that the huge weather system causing the freezing temperatures is showing no sign of breaking up. It means that the big freeze looks set to continue for several weeks to come.