At Least 45 Dead in Europe Cold Wave

By By Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist
February 01, 2012, 11:53:37 AM EST

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Severe cold gripping eastern and central Europe since the middle of last week has claimed at least 58 lives, the AP said on Tuesday.

At least 30 people have died in Ukraine and another 15 in Poland, as nighttime temperatures dived as far as 20 degrees below zero F.

Many of the dead were among the homeless.

In Ukraine, the cold led to more than 600 people being treated for frostbite and hypothermia within three days, according to officials.

Nearly 24,000 people sought shelter during the same three days, the BBC reported.

Cold deaths were also reported in Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.

In some areas, the bitter cold followed heavy falls of snow, among them the late-week dump of 1-2 feet in much of Romania and Bulgaria.

Early Tuesday, subzero cold spread widely over Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and eastern Poland, data accessed by showed. European Russia also experienced widespread subzero cold.

In western Ukraine, Rovno dipped to 19 degrees below zero F, or 28 below zero C. Ivano-Frankivsk saw 18 degrees below zero F.

In Serbia, Sjenica set a low of 20 degrees below zero F, or 29 below zero C, Tuesday morning.

Ironically, the cold wave followed what had been a relatively mild winter, having above-normal temperatures in much of December and January.

The present cold wave across central and eastern Europe will last into late week before moderating somewhat, forecasters believe.

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