Freezing, miserable spring for Europe and parts of America

Europe and parts of America shiver in an icy month, and white Easter is more likely than not

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 3:22am


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Freak blizzards and freezing weather over the first few days of spring in Europe and parts of the United States caused fatal cases of hypothermia, power outages and transport chaos.

In Poland five people have died from exposure since spring arrived on March 21 as overnight temperatures plunged to a bone-chilling minus 24 degrees Celsius. This pushed the total death toll this month to 25.

Bad weather also claimed at least two lives in Britain, where media dubbed the unseasonably icy month "Miserable March".

The military was called into action to airdrop fodder to farms cut off by freak snow as thousands of homes remained without power for a fifth straight day.

A Royal Air Force helicopter was used in Northern Ireland in a bid to reach remote farms where up to 10,000 animals were believed buried beneath snowdrifts six metres deep.

British bookmakers used to offering bets on a White Christmas now say a White Easter this weekend is more likely than not.

In southwest Scotland, the Isle of Arran was still without power following last Friday's unseasonal snowfall that brought down power lines.

In the United States, where a huge spring storm dumped snow from St Louis to the east coast and grounded hundreds of flights on Monday, temperatures were struggling to climb back to normal in most areas.

Nearly a week after the spring equinox, huge swathes of the US remained deep in winter's clutches. Temperatures hovered well below freezing and snowploughs and shovels were pulled back out of sheds.

A March chill hovered over large sections of the South and the Midwest, but the mercury was bouncing back along the east coast. In Washington, temperatures were expected to hit 15 degrees Celsius by the weekend.

In Europe, the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, was still feeling the effects of Monday's record-breaking snowfall, which saw residents skiing down city streets as drivers fumed in vast traffic jams.

Up to 15 centimetres of snow also blanketed Romania, shutting down schools and hampering traffic in three regions, including the capital, Bucharest.

Trucks queued for hours on the Serbian side of the border with Hungary amid heavy snowfall as it banned access for vehicles loaded with more than 7.5 tonnes.

Deadly black ice coated roads in neighbouring Croatia, causing a spate of accidents in central regions of the country, national television reports said.

Meanwhile, heavy winds on the Adriatic coast on Tuesday saw ferry traffic suspended between the Croatian port of Split and surrounding islands.

No injuries were reported as violent winds tore the roof off a supermarket in the eastern Czech city of Sternberk.

Both Austria and Belgium saw temperatures plunge to record lows, with forecasters warning that the unseasonable cold snap was expected to last past the Easter weekend.