Image of the Day: Cold Snap Across Europe

Rare snowstorms in Rome and Tripoli and mounting death tolls from exposure — upwards of 500 lives to date — were among the consequences of a severe cold snap in Europe in late January and early February. Meteorologist Jeff Masters described it as Europe’s worst stretch of cold weather since February 1991.

According to Climate Central's Andrew Freedman, the cold weather is a result of an unusually strong, sprawling Arctic High pressure area that has pushed frigid air from Siberia westward. Other factors, possibly including Arctic sea ice loss, also may be involved.

The map above shows temperature anomalies for Europe and western Russia from January 25 to February 1, compared to temperatures for the same dates from 2001 to 2011. Areas with above-average temperatures appear in red and orange, and areas with below-average temperatures appear in shades of blue. Oceans and lakes appear in gray. Blue dominates this image, with most regions experiencing temperatures well below normal. Some of the most severe temperature anomalies occur in northwestern Russia and around the Black Sea.

Image Credit: NASA