CNN International Senior Meteorologist
One indication of how bad the weather has been in southeast Europe, the city hospital in Split, Croatia has used a two years supply of plaster in only 5 days; a result of treating the incredible number of fractures caused by slips on the snowy terrain.
The record cold that has gripped Europe for 2 weeks continues to anchor itself across the continent, with 22 countries posting warnings for extreme cold temperatures and accumulating snow. Bucharest, Romania reached a low of -24 degrees C (-11 F) for the second consecutive morning on Friday, their lowest temperature since the cold wave began 2 weeks ago. Bucharest has been one of the hardest hit cities, and has not seen the mercury climb above the 0 degree C (32 F) freezing point since January 24th, which seems unfathomable considering the average high for this time of year is 3 degrees C above zero (37 F).
The current snow depth in the city is 28 cm (11 inches), while this time last year there was no snow on the ground. The snow has piled up even higher to the west, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the capital of Sarajevo has seen over 100 cm (39 inches) accumulate in the past 2 weeks. A year ago, Sarajevo was barely covered with only 1 cm of snow. A series of potent snow storms has hammered the Balkan Peninsula. These storms are the result of a jet stream that sagged farther south than you would normally find it, allowing storms to pick up moisture over the waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and dump it as snow on the already frozen landscape of the Balkans.
Another one for these storms is moving over Italy today, and will deposit another layer of fresh snow in southeast Europe through the weekend. Sarajevo could see another 30-40 cm (12-16 inches), and central Italian cities such as Bologna could see similar totals. Authorities in Italy have issued high warnings for avalanches in the Apennines Mountains due to high winds and additional snowfalls.
The question on everyone’s mind is “when will the cold finally end?” Unfortunately the answer appears to be not any time soon. The jet stream remains seemingly locked with a deep trough over the eastern half of Europe through next week. This will allow the Arctic air to continue spilling deep into Europe, keeping temperatures well below average, and allowing the snow to continue to pile higher and higher.