MADRID – A spell of very cold weather spread across much of Europe on Tuesday, turning the continent into a snowy and icebound land, while weather stations warned of worse to come in days ahead.
Spring is due to arrive in three weeks, it comes with an increased risk of severe weather and floods as Atlantic storm Emma links forces with a spell of arctic cold that some are calling “Beast from the East.”
Germany’s lowest winter temperature was recorded on Monday after the thermometer hit -27 Celsius (- 16.6 F) on Zugspitze Mountain in southern Germany’s Alps.
The Alps are under a protracted flood alert due to this winter’s extensive snowpack which is set to melt quickly as temperatures rise.
In the Iberian peninsula, the powerful late-winter storm Emma is forecast to bring heavy rain, snow and strong local winds to northern Portugal and northwest Spain and not sparing neighboring France.
Media reports said on Tuesday that three people who had been sleeping outdoors died in the cold snap in France.
According to French weather stations, an extreme temperature alert is in effect in the Les Landes and Loire-Atlantique regions until Wednesday.
Emma is also set to travel north to the British Isles, after the “Beast from the East” freezing weather phenomenon, a combination of dangerous cold and disruptive snowfall, also hit the United Kingdom this week.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the civil protection agency deployed the army to clean Rome’s streets after snowfall paralyzed it completely, with snow falling right to the Mediterranean coast.
Heavy snowfall also caused disruption and closures in the Balkan Peninsula where, on Monday, snowfalls in excess of 25 centimeters (10 inches) were reported in parts of northern Greece, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
Croatia avoided the heaviest snowfalls but some schools closed on Monday and some 1,000 soldiers were deployed to clear the snow in areas still recovering from last week’s snowstorms.
Heavy snows are expected to impact as far as the northwestern end of Turkey.