Big freeze engulfs Europe – and it’s heading for UK
WINTER STORM: Heavy snowfalls lead to at least 24 deaths and cause chaos across Alpine areas, with three skiers latest to die
A winter storm which has subjected mainland Europe to deadly snowfall is heading towards the UK.
Heavy snowfall and raging winter conditions have seen people stranded and cut off in countries such as Germany, Czech Republic and Austria.
The mercury is expected to slowly fall in Scotland this week before the freeze sets in during the second half of this month.
The Met Office has warned of the first “widespread snow” of winter with subzero Arctic air next week bringing fierce gales and driving rain.
Met Office forecaster Nicola Maxey said: “It’s mainly this weather we’re seeing at the moment continuing into the middle of the month.
“Then, as we go through towards the end of the month, these conditions become a little bit more changeable with some spells of rain and strong winds, and some of that rain might fall as snow.”
Some forecasts claim up to six inches of snow could fall in parts of the UK by the end of the month, with many places seeing at least a covering.
The threat was announced as continental Europe is hammered by relentless snowstorms that have killed upwards of 20 people so far and brought devastating avalanches.
Three German skiers were killed in an avalanche in Austria – and a fourth is missing, police said yesterday as snowfall set in again in the northern Alps.
The bodies of the men – aged 57, 36 and 32 – were recovered on Saturday evening near the ski resort of Lech, a few hours after the wife of one of the skiers reported them missing.
Police in Vorarlberg, Austria’s western-most province, said they had to call off the search for another missing German skier in the group, age 28, because of heavy snow and the risk of avalanches.
The avalanche brings to at least 24 the number of weather-related deaths reported in parts of Europe this month.
Police said the friends had apparently skied on to a trail that was closed.
Although they had avalanche protection equipment and deployed airbags, the victims were buried by the avalanche and suffered multiple injuries. They were located with the help of phone tracking.
On Saturday, authorities in southern Germany and Austria used a break in the weather to clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads.
But snow set in again on Saturday night.
In the Bavarian town of Kempten, local authorities closed 11 sports halls as a precaution because the weight of snow on their roofs was expected to increase, German media reported.
Trains between the German cities of Munich and Lindau, on Lake Constance near the Austrian border, were travelling more slowly than usual because of a risk that trees weighed down by snow could fall on to the tracks.