More than a dozen die as snow storms batter Europe

Heavy snowfall has caused chaos in Poland.
Heavy snowfall has caused chaos in Poland.

As Ireland braces itself for the first blast of snow next week, the freezing temperatures and wintry conditions have already claimed more than a dozen lives across Europe.

Met Eireann says hail, sleet and snow can be expected in the North as early as Wednesday but won’t arrive in the South until Thursday

It is expected to be mild across the country from Monday until Wednesday, with outbreaks of rain until the weather turns bitterly cold across the country from Thursday.

Meanwhile, at least 10 people including seven men died in Poland on Friday, authorities said. A 51-year-old died when he was asphyxiated by carbon monoxide from a malfunctioning heater.

Temperatures in Poland dropped below -20C on Saturday and an even colder night was forecast.

A man died on Saturday in Belgium when his truck slid off a highway.

In Italy sub-freezing temperatures were blamed for the deaths of half a dozen homeless people. Heavy snow and high winds resulted in rerouted flights, delayed ferries, cancelled trains and closed roads, media reported.

With no indication of a letup, some schools in southern Italy were ordered not to open on Monday because of as much as a metre of snow, the ANSA news agency reported. In Rome the fountains in St Peter’s Square froze overnight and dripped icicles instead.

Temperatures dropped to -7C in Greece’s second largest city of Thessaloniki and a low of -10C was expected on Sunday, said the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Roads were closed temporarily across large swathes of northern Greece due to snow and ice.

Heavy snow crippled Istanbul and national carrier Turkish Airlines cancelled more than 650 flights. The state-run Anadolu news agency reported that the Bosporus Strait — which runs through Istanbul and is one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes — was closed and ferry services halted.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported one of the main highways in Istanbul practically turned into a parking lot after drivers deserted their cars on Friday night to walk home rather than battle the gusting snow and slippery roads.

In northern Europe, where residents are accustomed to sub-zero temperatures and snowy winters, police in Denmark warned about icy and slippery roads after dozens of minor traffic accidents.

Temperatures in Latvia were forecast to drop to -30C late on Saturday, the Baltic News Agency said.