Rome sees snow in 6 years as ice weather hits Europe

Rome's first snowfall in six years saw freezing temperatures that have claimed four lives, closed schools and disrupted travel.

Rome woke to its first snowfall in six years yesterday as chilling winds from Siberia swept across Europe, bringing freezing temperatures that have claimed at least four lives, closed schools and disrupted travel.

The “Beast from the East,” as the phenomenon has been dubbed by the British media, is expected to bring cold air from Russia over the next few days that will make it feel even chillier than thermometers indicate.

Rome saw its first snowfall since February 2012, with about three to four centimeters settling on the ground.

Schools were closed in the Italian capital as authorities opened several train stations as shelters for the homeless.

It was zero degrees Celsius in Rome yesterday morning, with a low of minus six Celsius forecast until Wednesday.

In the north Italian city of Turin, heavy snow caused a Serie A football game between Juventus and Atalanta to be postponed on Sunday.

Two people have died of the cold in Poland since Saturday, bringing the winter’s toll to 48 since November.

Temperatures plunged to minus 26.2 C overnight in the northeastern town of Goldap, with daytime forecasts predicting lows of up to minus 11 C yesterday in eastern Poland.

In France, where temperatures were forecast to drop to minus 10 degrees Celsius and feel as low as minus 18 C over the coming days, emergency shelters were opened for the homeless.

A homeless man in the city of Valence in the country’s southeast was found dead on Sunday, after another man was found dead in his cabin in the suburbs of Paris last Friday. Both deaths were believed to have been linked to the cold.

Britain’s weather service issued a yellow warning yesterday and amber warnings for today and Wednesday, with more snow expected in eastern England.

In Berlin, where at least 3,000 people are estimated to be living on the streets, overnight shelters for the homeless were 95 percent full, and overcrowding was feared in coming nights, as temperatures drop as low as minus 20 C.