It's nearly summertime -- and the living is chilly across much of Europe.
Fresh snow fell Wednesday on parts of Austria -- so much in some places that authorities closed roads to cars without tire chains -- and temperatures dipped below freezing in corners of Croatia, England and Scotland, fouling moods and spoiling picnic plans.
The unseasonably cold June has even caused headaches in Italy, a country that is normally balmy this time of year: Officials said cooler-than-usual temperatures and hailstorms have inflicted millions of dollars' worth in damage on crops.
In agricultural areas near Verona in northeastern Italy -- one of the hardest-hit areas -- between 30 and 40 percent of peaches and apples were lost after hail pummeled trees, according to Coldiretti, an Italian farmers' association.
Heavy rain and strong winds flooded some of Rome's cobblestone streets overnight, uprooting trees and forcing authorities to close several roads to traffic. On Wednesday, gusts rustled Pope Benedict XVI's white vestments during his open-air audience in St. Peter's Square and forced the pontiff to remove his skullcap.
"Strong wind in the sacred scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and we hope that the Holy Spirit illuminates us now as we meditate on Psalm 110," the pope said as his robes fluttered in the breeze.
Parts of Austria's Alps were blanketed with nearly 16 inches of fresh snow, and the country's automobile club said numerous tow trucks were called to aid stranded motorists. No injuries were reported.
Austrians call the late spring chill "Schafskaelte," or "sheep's cold" -- invoking the image of livestock shivering in the fields after their first shearing of the season.
To be sure, not all of Europe was chilly. In three of Portugal's northern districts, firefighters were on maximum alert Wednesday as a heat wave sharply increased the risk of forest fires.
But in Croatia, a few inches of snow fell last week and strong winds that reached 60 mph around the southern coastal town of Makarska prompted police to warn drivers and cancel ferry service with the popular resort island of Brac.
Heavy rain flooded several villages in central Serbia. A deluge fell on the region of Leskovac, and fresh snow blanketed the mountains of southern Serbia, the state weather bureau said.
It has been far colder than usual in parts of Germany, where overnight temperatures recently dropped to as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the east, and in neighboring Switzerland, where high winds swept away several tents at a fairground last weekend.