It is the middle of winter so I wasn’t expecting warm weather in Geneva, but I wasn’t really expecting this either. Europe is experiencing extremely cold temperatures. The weather forecast: more severe cold. The bitterly cold weather will continue through the weekend thanks to a dip in the jet stream that has allowed a large area of high pressure to move west from Siberia.
Cold weather gear, check. Hats, scarves, sweaters, coats, gloves, mittens, long underwear, wool socks, boots, I have been wearing it all. At once. While drinking hot tea. Sitting underneath a blanket. With the radiators blasting.
This weekend, it was -12 C (10.4 F) when we got on the chair lift to head to the much colder mountaintop. While the chair lift wasn’t warm, we are lucky because the cold snap hasn’t created major problems for us. Others have not been so fortunate:
- Occupy Geneva has been disbanded, not because the government is broke it up, but because someone froze to death.
- In Eastern Europe, people got snowed into their cars and almost froze to death on roadsides. Entire villages and regions are inaccessible.
- In Hungary, people combed through a disused mine’s refuse pile with their bare hands to get coal.
- Hundreds of homeless across Eastern Europe and in Russia have also frozen to death.
- Greece and Bosnia have declared states of emergency.
- London’s Heathrow Airport cancelled half its flights on Sunday.
There have also been some more (and some less) humorous stories about people’s experiences with the cold.
- Our friend from Poland told us that they are leaving their cars running overnight because temperatures are so cold that they won’t start.
- Bosnian snowboarders took advantage of a record snowfall and snowboarded down the streets of Sarajevo. People also snowboarded next to the Colosseum.
- When I opened the paper yesterday, I saw a story about someone who went swimming in Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)!
- In Belgium, temperatures of -10 C kept intoxilyzers, machines to test motorists’ alcohol levels, from functioning.
- Cars parked by Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) have frozen in place. They are stuck because scraping ice off can take the paint with it. Today, someone told me a story about this happening to an expensive sports car. The owner elicited professional help to melt the ice so he could get his baby to a garage.