Temperatures plunge across Europe

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.

Freezing temperatures have claimed at least seven lives across the continent in recent days with particularly acute fears for rough sleepers in the bitter cold.

The weather in Europe is in stark contrast to the Arctic itself, which is experiencing an unusually warm period despite it being the depths of winter when the sun never even rises above the horizon.

Meteorologists have documented temperatures above freezing in some parts of the Arctic, causing astonishment among many scientists.

"The Arctic is having an off-the-charts heatwave this week," the European Geosciences Union wrote in a tweet.

Yet thousands of kilometres south, temperate Rome woke to its first snowfall in six years on Monday thanks to the Polar Vortex.

The mercury dipped as low as -4 deg C early yesterday morning, according to the Italian Meteorological Service.

In Poland, where at least two people have died of exposure since Saturday, temperatures dropped overnight to -12 deg C while parts of Lithuania saw the mercury fall below -20 deg C.

Temperatures in France are forecast to drop to -10 deg C and feel as low as -18 deg C over the coming days. - AFP