In the icy grip of the Beast From the East

Ashleigh Burns snow- North Yorkshire'Beast from the East- Shaw Mills

A record low temperature was recorded in the German Alps, where the temperature reached minus-27 degrees Celsius, or minus-16 degrees Fahreneheit.

A blast of Siberian weather dubbed "The Beast from the East" sent temperatures plunging across much of Europe early yesterday as commuters braced themselves for another day of travel chaos.

THE "Beast from the East" was a pest for the west as thousands of children were forced to miss school due to heavy snow.

The cold spell has been caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic, known by meteorologists as sudden stratospheric warming, which has weakened the jet stream that brings warm air in from the Atlantic to Ireland and Britain.

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At least four people have died of exposure in Poland since Saturday and the mercury dipped to 10 degrees there overnight, while temperatures in Lithuania - which saw three deaths - plunged to below minus -4 degrees Tuesday, AFP reported.

The "Beast from the East", as the phenomenon has been dubbed by the British media, is expected to bring chilling winds from Russian Federation over the next week that will make it feel even colder than thermometers indicate.

Homeless people account for numerous dead, and cities across Europe have been racing to open emergency shelters to protect people sleeping rough.

Residents of the Italian capital woke up on Monday to find their city covered in snow, the unusually freezing conditions prompting some seminarians to launch a snowball fight in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City.

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The cold weather is expected to continue until late in the week.

In Belgium, a local mayor in a municipality of Brussels ordered homeless people to be forcibly detained if they refused to go to shelters.

The UK Met Office has issued "Amber" weather warnings for snow on Tuesday, which is the highest category of warning, as a low pressure system moving from east to west is expected to bring heavy snow squalls to areas near Newcastle. At least five people died in incidents attributed to the weather.

"It's the coldest air we have seen over the United Kingdom at this time of the year since around 1991", Becky Mitchell, a Met Office meteorologist said.

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