Europe in the Grip of Arctic Outbreak

January 8, 2017

Cold Arctic air has reached and settled over the central Mediterranean, now causing bitterly cold temperatures across much of Europe. Hurricane-force winds are affecting the Adriatic coast for the second day in a row and producing intense sea-effect snowfall over the south-central Italy. As of late January 7, at least 23 people have lost their lives and the death toll is expected to rise.

On Thursday, January 5, a storm surge has caused the worst flooding on Germany’s north-east coast since 2006, leaving streets and cars submerged and causing major damage. Towns and cities along the Baltic coast were flooded, from Kiel in the far north to the resort island of Usedom near the Polish border, the BBC reported.

Sea levels were recorded in the port of Wismar at 1.83 m (6 feet) above normal overnight. Severe winter conditions were also present in Sweden and Finland. The overnight temperature fell to -41.7 °C (-43 °F) at Muonio in Finnish Lapland, near the north-western border with Sweden. It was the coldest night of the winter so far.

Further west in northern Sweden, temperatures fell as low as -41.3 °C (-42.3° F) and road conditions were treacherous in much of the country.

By Friday, January 6, the cold arctic airmass has spread further south across central Europe and was already far south over the Balkan peninsula and even southern France.

Severe Bura winds wreaked havoc across the entire Adriatic coast. Near-hurricane and hurricane-force winds ripped out trees and caused widespread traffic chaos and localized power blackouts in Croatia.

The strongest winds measured yesterday along the Adriatic coast were 218 km/h (135 mph) at Most Pag and 196 km/h (122 mph) at Jasenice. Zavižan registered 148 km/h (92 mph), Dubrovnik 143 km/h (89 mph) and Split 130 km/h (81 mph).

Split saw daily mean temperature of -3.4 °C (25.9 °F), which is 11.5 °C (20.7 °F) lower than the daily average for January 6. The last time it was that cold in Split was on January 1, 1985, Crometeo reported.

Due to strong winds, the real feel was about -24 °C (-11.2 °F) and meteorologists warned Saturday, January 7 could bring low temperatures not seen in the region in the past 50 years.

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