Deaths, travel disruption as cold snap hits Europe

Madrid, Jan 9 (EFE).- A cold snap affecting large parts of northern Europe has caused deaths in Poland and severe traffic disruption in France.

Two people died of hypothermia on Tuesday in Poland, which is struggling with its worst cold wave in years amid temperatures of -27C and overnight snowfall of more than 5 centimeters.

Shelters for homeless people have been set up in several cities, while some municipal governments have appealed to people to shelter the homeless until the cold weather passes.

Traffic accidents have also increased on icy roads, while some railway lines, including the one linking the capital Warsaw to the northern port city of Gdansk, have been affected by delays and breakdowns.

An active alert was in effect throughout the country that will last for several days due to an arctic windstorm.

Wind gusts of up to 70 kilometers per hour were battering areas such as the Bieszczady Mountains (east), where the warmest temperature was -12C.

In the Carpathian Mountains in the south and west of the country, temperatures fell to -23C on Monday. The average temperature forecast for the country on Tuesday was -15C.

In Ukraine, national power company Ukrenergo has warned that consumption was spiking this week due to the severe cold. The firm has asked users to minimize the use of electricity to avoid cuts.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Ukraine’s electricity production capacity has been depleted due to attacks on its infrastructure.

Extreme weather conditions have also left more than 1,000 villages in nine regions without electricity, according to the power company.

Western Europe, meanwhile has gone from struggling with flooding and high winds last week to the current cold snap.

In France, Transport Minister Clément Beaune told RMC radio station Tuesday morning that about 1,000 vehicles were blocked on the A13 freeway overnight, especially on roads out of Paris.

The disruptions were caused by unexpected snowfall overnight, Beaune said.

An orange alert for snow and ice in four departments of Normandy and in two others in the Paris region has been activated.

School transport has been canceled in the Eure and Loire, Orne and Calvados departments as a precautionary measure.

More snow is expected to fall in Normandy in the coming hours, which is expected to cause “significant” issues on roads, meteorologists warned.

Across the border in Belgium, subzero temperatures continued for the third consecutive day, with lows of -8C forecast for Tuesday night.

The United Kingdom was also struggling with low temperatures on Tuesday, with overnight lows below freezing in most parts of the country, while flood warnings were still in effect after last week’s heavy rainfall.

Five Spanish regions – Aragon, Balearic Islands, Navarra, Basque Country and Catalonia – activated severe cold warnings on Tuesday.

In the province of Lleida, temperatures dropped to -10C, the State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) said. EFE

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