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Extreme wintry weather hits Europe
Storm force winds, heavy snow and extremely low temperatures have spread from Denmark and Germany east into central and eastern Europe and south as far as Sicily, Cyprus and Turkey over the past few days. As of Friday evening EDT, the whole of Italy, Austria and some other parts of southern Europe are under red Meteoalarm* warnings for cold with much of Europe east of a line from the UK to Marseilles under yellow or orange alerts for wind, snow and cold, an unusually vast area to experience such wintry weather for such a long time.
The cause has been a deep low that has been moving east across the continent to its current (22.00 EDT) position near Greece. To its west has been an exceptionally strong high pressure system with a ridge to the N or NE. Between these two systems, a ferocious northerly has been slowly moving east, dragging Arctic air across Europe. Temperatures have been 15 to 20° below normal for this time of year, falling to as low as -50° in northern Scandinavia, and windchills around -25° have been felt as far south as Greece.
The strong winds across the Baltic produced storm surges of up to 1.77m above normal sea levels, coupled with high seas, in Denmark, and to only slightly lower levels around parts of the coasts of the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and Poland. Considerable coastal flooding resulted. Bora winds of up to 150km/h from the Adriatic have given Italy and the Balkans as far south as Turkey snowfalls of 30 to 60cm and locally 75cm in the past day or two with the heaviest snow now moving into Bulgaria, Romania and the Black Sea area.
The worst of the weather has now moved away from Western Europe, but here is Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre (ERCC) map of the situation in and around Germany last Wednesday, with an ERCC close-up of the peak storm surges recorded in Denmark up to Thursday. Severe Weather Europe has been providing an excellent running commentary on its website and Facebook page, with lots of contributions, pictures, video and images that give a good feel for the situation. Britain has escaped this event relatively unscathed, with storm surges on the North Sea coast, ice on roads and light high-level snow the only reminders that winter has been raging just the other side of the Channel.