Winter returns to Europe with a vengeance

Farmers fear for crops after a week of frost and snow, while a persistent heatwave in India costs scores of lives

After a very warm start to April, parts of Central and Eastern Europe reverted to winter mode over the Easter weekend and throughout last week as unusually cold air for this time of year spread southwards bringing snow and sub-zero temperatures. In Slovakia, a heavy snowstorm reportedly caused a 40-car pile-up.

However, the wintry weather hasn’t just brought travel disruption. It has also caused concern among farmers who fear that hard frosts and snow could have damaged or destroyed crops. The low-pressure system over south-eastern Europe that brought this weather drifted eastwards on Thursday into Ukraine and Romania, bringing further snow accumulations to mountainous areas.

Elsewhere, an intense heatwave gripped India last week with the mercury soaring into the mid-40s. There are no signs of relief for the millions of people and animals as daily temperatures are expected to remain 3-5C above normal across northern India throughout this week, especially in the north-west, where temperatures could still breach 40C.

Although heatwaves occur every year in India, there is concern surrounding this particular event due to its early arrival and its persistence. Nearly 40 people have reportedly died since the beginning of April, and it is thought that it could last until the start of the monsoon season in June.

Meanwhile in the Atlantic ocean, tropical storm Arlene became the first named storm of the 2017 hurricane season. April storms are a rare occurrence, with Ana in 2003 being the only previous storm recorded so early in the year since satellite monitoring began.

Cassie Bell (MetDesk)

The GuardianTramp

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