A blast of cold weather from Siberia, nicknamed the “Beast from the East”, caused temperatures in Europe to plunge early on Tuesday, AFP reported. At least 10 people have died over the last three days in Europe due to freezing temperatures.

In Rome, temperatures dipped to minus four degrees Celsius. But Dolina Campoluzzo, an area in north Italy, shivered at minus 40 degrees.

As many as four people have died in Poland since Saturday. Temperatures dropped to minus 12 degrees in the central European country overnight on Tuesday. In Lithuania, where three deaths have been recorded, the mercury fell below minus 20 degrees.

Three people have died in France, where temperatures are expected to plunge to minus 18 degrees over the next few days, AFP reported.

In Belgium, the mayor of Etterbeek municipality of Brussels ordered homeless people to be forcibly detained if they refused to go to shelters. Authorities in Germany’s Capital Berlin said 95% of shelters for the homeless were already occupied.

Arctic temperatures soar

Though Europe is freezing, temperatures in the Arctic may have soared to as high as two degrees Celsius, The Washington Post reported on Monday citing the United States Global Forecast System. The reason for the abnormal increase in temperatures at the North Pole during the winter was a huge storm which pumped intense heat through the Greenland Sea.

“No other warm intrusions [in past years] were very close to this,” Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California told the daily. The warm intrusion penetrated the heart of the Central Arctic region, he added.

Robert Graham, from the Norwegian Polar Institute, who was part of a study on Arctic temperatures published in July 2017 said that such warm intrusions have become very common. “It happened in four years between 1980 and 2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters,” he said.

“As the winter sea ice is melting and thinning, it is becoming more vulnerable to these winter storms,” Graham said.

Kent Moore, a professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Toronto, told The Washington Post that the rise in Arctic temperatures could also be due to a sudden warming of the stratosphere – the layer of the atmosphere which is about 30,000 feet above sea level.