Europe’s deep freeze, which has cost more than 60 lives over the past week, continued to wreak havoc early Saturday as the shivering continent awaited a sliver of weekend respite from a brutal Siberian cold front.
After heavy snowfall and deadly blizzards lashed Europe, conditions marginally improved in some regions on Friday — although temperatures generally remained sub-zero, forcing more major delays on roads, railways and at airports.
But Britain’s met office said the arctic temperatures were set to rise. In France, the forecast this weekend was for rain rather than the kind of heavy snowfall that has blanketed vast tracts of Europe.
The deadly chill has been caused by weather blowing in from Siberia. British media have dubbed the front “the beast from the east,” while the Dutch have gone for the “Siberian bear” and the Swedes plumped for the “snow cannon”.
Over the past week, the freezing conditions have claimed more than 60 lives, including 23 in Poland, seven in Slovakia, six in the Czech Republic and five in Lithuania.
Other deaths were recorded in Spain, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
France has seen at least nine weather-related deaths, including four skiers killed by an avalanche on Friday in the alps, which have seen particularly heavy snowfall.
In Austria meanwhile, five migrants abandoned by smugglers were rescued from a motorway near the city of Graz on Friday, some of them walking barefoot in sub-zero temperatures.
Switzerland has seen the mercury plummet to records of up to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the ongoing blizzard, which has even covered usually balmy Mediterranean beaches with a blanket of snow.
Geneva’s busy airport announced it had re-opened shortly after midday Friday “despite the unfavorable meteorological conditions”, having warned earlier it faced staying shut for a second consecutive day as snowstorms continued to lash the Swiss city.
Airport authorities warned, however, of further “delays and cancellations”.
The cold threw a spanner in the works of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to give a speech on brexit in the northeastern city of Newcastle.