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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Case study – Extreme cold weather in Europe

Causes of the extreme cold weather


An intense, stubborn area of high pressure over much of Europe, extending from Siberia in the east to the UK in the west has led to plummeting temperatures since the end of January 2012.

From BBC Weather website

This high pressure means clear, cloud-free days and cloud-free nights. When this happens at this time of year, it leads to a prolonged cold spell. As air descends, it dries out. This results in little or no cloud. By night, cloud acts as a blanket, stopping heat that is in the ground radiating away into the sky.

So, in February, we have short days, low heating of the ground, long nights and nothing to stop the heat from the ground escaping. These conditions have lasted for a long time, so it just gets colder and colder.

More details:

Effects of the extreme weather

In the UK:
Scores of road accidents were reported, and on the M40 about 100 vehicles were stranded on 4th February.

A third of flights from Heathrow were cancelled and some trains and Tube services disrupted on Sunday 5th February

Key roads in and out of Dover were closed after heavy overnight snow in Kent, while rail operators reported delays and cancellations

There were several incidents in Surrey overnight, including a car that ran into the back of ambulance in Ashford

Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport was closed while snow was cleared from the runway
In Staffordshire more than 100 vehicles were abandoned on the A50 in Uttoxeter after two lorries jack-knifed.

More details:

Across Europe:

The cold weather has also killed people in Bosnia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, France, Austria, Ukraine, Poland and Greece.

Ukraine and Poland – Ukraine has been hardest hit, with at least 122 deaths over the past week, most of them homeless people.


Hundreds of heated tents have been set up around the country to provide food, drink and shelter as the country suffered temperatures as low as -38C.

Poland has lost at least 45 people in temperatures as low as -27C, while Romania's death toll has reached 28.

Romania – The Black Sea froze.

Italy - Heavy goods lorries banned from motorways. Rail services were reduced because of the wintry conditions. In Sicily, a one-year-old boy was fatally injured when his mother's car went into a stream swollen by torrential rain.

Greece - Temperatures of -16C (3F) were recorded leading to school closures

Bulgaria – Temperatures of -29C reported in Kneja. A 57-year-old man froze to death in a village in the north-west and 450 schools were closed across the country.

Germany – Two deaths recorded: a pedestrian froze after falling into a drainage ditch and a driver was killed when she lost control of her car on an icy road.

More details -

Text source – BBC News

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