LONDON — The “Beast from the East” has arrived.
Sweeping in from Siberia, the monster winter storm has brought rare snow to Rome, and bitter winds will cause some parts of Britain to feel colder than the Arctic Circle throughout the week.
Temperatures plummeted to as low as 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius) in parts of Britain Monday, or maybe more appropriately Brrrritain. The cold snap is thought to be the most severe cold weather in the past five years.
Much of Britain woke up to snow Tuesday morning with commuters facing delays and travel disruption across the country. Hundreds of trains were cancelled and forecasters warned that rural communities could become cut off.
"Tuesday is going to be a very cold day for all of us. Many parts will start with a severe frost, and temperatures then struggling to climb above freezing come the afternoon,” Britain’s official weather service said. The Met office also warned of power cuts and mobile phone services being affected.
The weather service warned of roads becoming blocked by deep snow, with many stranded vehicles and passengers.
In the seaside town of Whitstable in Kent, residents woke up to an estimated 8 inches (20 cm) of snowfall. Over 100 schools were closed on Tuesday in the county of Kent alone.
Amber warnings (one below the highest level of “red alert”) are in place for Tuesday and Wednesday, advising people to be prepared for travel disruptions and blizzard-like conditions through Friday.
It wasn't long before #BeastFromTheEast began trending on Twitter in Britain. While some people willed the chilly beast back to where it came from, others couldn’t resist responding to the severe weather with a dose of British sarcasm.
“Had 8 flakes of snow so I'm off to Tesco to buy 52 loaves of bread and 95 pints of milk,” tweeted one user.
“I might have taken the warnings to stock up before we’re hit by the
#BeastFromTheEast a little too seriously. I reckon my next grocery shop will be some time in mid-April,” tweeted another who had perhaps taken precautions a little too far.
Throughout the day, social media users shared tips on how to beat the big chill. One of the most common suggestions: “Put the kettle on.”
In Italy, the heavy snowfall forced schools to close. Flights to and from Ciampino Airport near Rome were canceled as police advised residents to stay at home if possible.
Despite the warnings, some couldn't resist a bit of fun and ventured out to make the most of Rome's heaviest snowfall in six years. Residents, priests and tourists were photographed wearing warm clothes and throwing snowballs at each other outside the Vatican.
Over the weekend, temperatures in Moscow plummeted to minus 4 degrees (-20 Celsius), with Sunday night reported as the coldest night of the Russian winter so far.
The most severe cold is forecast to hit Eastern Europe and Scandinavia over the next five days.