‘Beast from the East’ brings snow and frigid conditions to Europe

Snowfall in Rome on February 26, 2018.

Image: Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Europeans are feeling the effects of the “Beast from the East,” which refers to frigid winds blowing east to west from Siberia toward the UK. Temperatures have plunged as much as 20 degrees Celsius, or 36 degrees Fahrenheit, below average for this time of year, thanks to these frigid winds. 

For many cities in Europe, including Rome, Munich, Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Dublin, this is the coldest weather seen in several years, if not longer. The UK Met Office has issued “Amber” weather warnings for snow on Tuesday, which is the highest category of warning, as a low pressure system moving from east to west is expected to bring heavy snow squalls to areas near Newcastle. 

Amber warnings are also in effect for areas southeast of London on Tuesday for the threat of heavy snow. 

“There is the likelihood of travel delays on roads, with some stranded vehicles and passengers, as well as delays or cancellations to rail and air travel,” the Met Office warned. “Some rural communities could become cut off. Power cuts may also occur and other services, such as mobile phones, may be affected.”

Already on Sunday and Monday, snow flurries were flying at 10 Downing Street in London, and the Met Office was warning people to check in on the elderly and other vulnerable people not used to this cold weather and who may lack adequate heat. 

In Rome, snow fell, virtually shutting down the ancient city. According to the Associated Press, Rome’s transportation network was “crippled” as heavy snow fell. 

Computer projection of temperature departures from average in Europe on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.

Computer projection of temperature departures from average in Europe on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018.

A record low temperature was recorded in the German Alps, where the temperature reached minus-27 degrees Celsius, or minus-16 degrees Fahreneheit. In Moscow, a city accustomed to the cold, the temperature dropped to minus-20 degrees Celsius, or minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit, on Sunday night, the AP reported. 

The weather pattern responsible for this cold features a sprawling and strong area of high pressure parked near Scandinavia. The clockwise circulation of air around this high is pushing an unusually cold air mass from Siberia into Western Europe. The cold is forecast to linger all week in parts of Europe, although milder conditions may move into Spain and France during midweek. 

That extremely cold air mass itself was dislodged from the Arctic nearly two weeks ago, when the polar vortex split into two “sister vortices,” with one center anchored across Eurasia. The polar vortex split also sent record cold spilling into the Western U.S., while the East Coast set all-time record highs last week. 

Proving that everything in the atmosphere is connected, the Beast from the East-induced cold blast in Europe occurred at a time when the Arctic set records for the most unusually mild conditions during the month of February since reliable records began in the 1950s. In fact, it was warmer near the North Pole on Sunday – at or above freezing – than it was in Paris or Geneva. 

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