Frigid weather hits much of Europe, from Poland to Turkey

WARSAW, POLAND – Extreme cold hit much of Europe, with freezing temperatures cracking rail tracks in Poland, snow blanketing the Turkish metropolis of Istanbul and increasing smog as more coal was burned to generate heat.

In Switzerland, a skier who was buried in an avalanche this weekend died in a hospital from his injuries, authorities said on Monday.

The country had issued avalanche warnings several days earlier after heavy snowfall. Officials said the skier and his two companions were entombed by an avalanche while skiing on marked trails in the Gstaad region on Sunday. A man pulled away from the snow and then freed one of the others, but the third man could only be found by rescue teams, who arrived later.

Temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of Poland overnight, the coldest night in 11 years. Many trains were delayed Monday after the tracks cracked at two Warsaw stations.

Along with the cold, there was a spike in smog in Warsaw and other parts of Poland, as the cold caused an increase in the burning of coal for heating. Air pollution levels were so high in Warsaw that city officials urged people to stay indoors.

Just across the southwestern border from Poland, the Czech Republic experienced the coldest night this year with temperatures dropping below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit) in many places.

The lowest temperature – minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit) – was recorded Monday in Orlicke Zahori, a mountainous village 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Prague near the Polish border, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

The freezing weather is expected to be replaced by heavy snowfall in the northeastern Czech Republic, the institute said.

Winter conditions and freezing temperatures were reported in the Balkans, which created problems with the power supply in Serbia and brought snow even to the Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea.

In eastern Albania, temperatures dropped to minus 13 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) in Peshkopi, 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of the capital, Tirana. The deep freeze froze the water lines and created dangerous driving conditions. The icy roads in the town of Pogradec prevented firefighters from arriving on time to a house fire in which a man died early Monday.

In Istanbul, traffic was interrupted by a layer of snow covering the city, with cars stalling or skidding on the roads.

In Germany, fresh snow, slippery roads and fallen trees caused several car crashes on Sunday and overnight, the dpa news agency reported. A driver has died in southwestern Germany after his car hit a mound of snow.

The northern region also saw snow and below-freezing temperatures, with the coldest temperatures predictable on record in the Arctic. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute tweeted an ironic message on Monday, saying: “We encourage all knitting enthusiasts to send woolen clothes to their friends in the north.”

In Denmark, police found 17 naked people bathing in ice Sunday in a lake near Roskilde, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Copenhagen. All of the group, aged 26 to 51, have been preliminarily charged with violating pandemic restrictions limiting gatherings to five people. Police said they would all be fined 2,500 crowns ($ 405) for first-time offenders.


AP writers from all over Europe have contributed

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