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off the charts

Photos: Temperatures plunge as low as -20 as Europe gets battered by 'the Beast from the East'

The Arctic, meanwhile, is undergoing an unseasonable heatwave.

Italy Weather A man stands in front of the Colosseum in Rome. Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo / AP Photo

A BLAST OF Siberian weather dubbed “The Beast from the East” sent temperatures plunging across much of Europe early today as commuters braced themselves for another day of travel chaos.

Freezing temperatures have claimed at least 10 lives across the continent in the last three days with particularly acute fears for rough sleepers and the elderly during the bitterly cold snap.

The Arctic front has swept in from Russia, causing widespread travel disruption and school closures, with Ireland yet to feel the full effects as of yet. A Status Orange weather warning kicks in here today.

Germany Snow A snow plough in Luebeck, Germany. Jens Buettner / AP Photo Jens Buettner / AP Photo / AP Photo

The frozen temperatures in Europe are in stark contrast to the Arctic itself which is experiencing an unusually warm period despite it being the depths of winter when the sun never even rises above the horizon.

Meteorologists have documented temperatures above freezing in some parts of the Arctic, causing astonishment among many scientists.

“The Arctic is having an off-the-charts heatwave this week,” the European Geosciences Union wrote in a tweet.

Yet hundreds of miles further south, temperate Rome woke to its first snowfall in six years on Monday thanks to the Polar Vortex.

The mercury dipped as low as -4 early this morning according to the Italian Meteorological Service.

A string of major football matches, including Italian Cup bouts on Wednesday between Juventus/Atalanta and AC Milan/Lazio, could be postponed if the cold weather continues, officials have warned.

One of the lowest temperatures in Europe was recorded at Dolina Campoluzzo, North Italy, which shivered at -40 although the weather station is located at an altitude of 1,768 metres.

Italy Weather Rome's skyline Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo Alessandra Tarantino / AP Photo / AP Photo

Snow in the Mediterranean

In Poland, where at least four people have died of exposure since Saturday, temperatures dropped overnight to -12 while parts of Lithuania, which has had three deaths, saw the mercury fall below -20.

Temperatures in France are forecast to drop to -10 and feel as low as -18 over the coming days.

Germany Snow A woman with a snow shovel in eastern Germany Jens Buettner / AP Photo Jens Buettner / AP Photo / AP Photo

Three cold-related deaths have been documented so far.

On Sunday, a 35-year-old homeless man was found dead in the southeastern city of Valence, and two days earlier, a 62-year-old man died in his cabin in the woods outside Paris.

A third man, aged 53, was found dead in a frozen field in Gresy-sur-Aix yesterday afternoon.

Some local authorities in Europe have ordered officials to find shelters for the homeless. Efforts are already well under way in Ireland’s major cities to follow suit, to ensure no rough sleepers are on the streets during this weather event.

In Belgium, a local mayor in a municipality of Brussels ordered homeless people to be forcibly detained if they refused to go to shelters.

Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf said the cold was a “major risk”, stressing that it was his responsibility to avoid potential deaths with temperatures set to drop to -15 on Wednesday night.

In Berlin, local authorities said homeless shelters were already at 95 percent capacity with temperatures dropping to -20 in some parts of Germany.

Icy temperatures have caused travel disruption in the Netherlands and Britain.

Britain Weather Crossing the Millenium Bridge in London. Victoria Jones / PA Images Victoria Jones / PA Images / PA Images

Even the Mediterranean has seen flurries, with snow falling in Nice and drifts forcing authorities to close numerous motorways along Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

“This week looks like being the coldest period we have had in the UK for a number of years,” Britain’s weather service, the Met Office, said on Sunday, warning of travel delays.

“Parts of England and Wales are likely to see their coldest spell of weather since at least 2013 – perhaps 1991,” said the Met Office’s chief forecaster Frank Saunders.

© AFP 2018

Read: So how will The Beast compare to the Big Snow of ’82?

Read: ‘Beast from the east is coming our way’: Leo says weather advice will be clear about whether to stay home from work

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