European Winter Blast Blamed For 40 Deaths


Unseasonably cold weather and heavy snow in parts of northern Europe have killed at least 40 people in several countries this week and caused major travel disruptions.

The frigid weather is expected to linger through the first half of next week, CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said.

""A 'blocking pattern' high-pressure system has set up over Greenland and Iceland, basically leading to an atmospheric traffic jam,"" Wagstaffe said. ""This high is steering Atlantic warmth away from Europe and instead directing Arctic cold down from the North.""

In Poland, officials said at least 12 people — many of them homeless — died overnight, bringing the death toll in Poland alone to 30 over the past three days. People have also died from the cold in Russia, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, local media reported.

On Friday, authorities in northern England said they found the bodies of two elderly residents who are believed to have frozen to death.

The cold weather and early snowfall has disrupted air and rail service and led to the closure of thousands of schools in the United Kingdom, CBC's London bureau chief Ann MacMillan said.