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Topics - February 27, 2018
Europe weather
'Beast from the East'

Rome, Feb 27, 2018 (AFP) - A blast of Siberian weather dubbed "The Beast from the East" sent temperatures plunging across much of Europe early Tuesday as commuters braced themselves for another day of travel chaos. Freezing temperatures have claimed at least seven lives across the continent in recent days with particularly acute fears for rough sleepers in the bitter cold. An Arctic cold front, which Britain's tabloids have christened "The Beast from the East", has swept in from Russia, causing widespread travel disruption and school closures. The frozen temperatures in Europe are in stark contrast to the Arctic itself which is experiencing an unusually warm period despite it being the depths of winter when the sun never even rises above the horizon. Meteorologists have documented temperatures above freezing in some parts of the Arctic, causing astonishment among many scientists. "The Arctic is having an off-the-charts heatwave this week," the European Geosciences Union wrote in a tweet. Yet hundreds of miles further south, temperate Rome woke to its first snowfall in six years on Monday thanks to the Polar Vortex. The mercury dipped as low as minus 4 C (24 Fahrenheit) early Tuesday morning according to the Italian Meteorological Service. A string of major football matches, including Italian Cup bouts on Wednesday between Juventus/Atalanta and AC Milan/Lazio, could be postponed if the cold weather continues, officials have warned. In Poland, where at least two people have died of exposure since Saturday, temperatures dropped overnight to minus 12 Celsius while parts of Lithuania saw the mercury fall below minus 20. Temperatures in France are forecast to drop to minus 10 C and feel as low as minus 18 C over the coming days. On Sunday, a 35-year-old homeless man was found dead in the southeastern city of Valence, and two days earlier, a 62-year-old man died in his cabin in the woods outside Paris. Some local authorities have ordered officials to find shelters for the homeless.