Deadly Cold Across Europe and Russia

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A wave of frigid air spilled down over Europe and Russia from the Arctic in mid-December of 2009, creating a deadly cold snap.

According to BBC.com, at least 90 people had died in Europe, including 79 people, mostly homeless, in Poland. In places, the bitter cold was accompanied by heavy snow, which halted rail and air traffic for several days during the week of Christmas.

Map of Cold Temperatures Across Europe: December 11 to 18, 2009

This image shows the impact of the cold snap on land surface temperatures across the region from December 11 to 18, 2009, compared to the 2000-2008 average temperatures.

Legend bar for a map showing temperatures across Europe in December of 2009.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Land Group. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the MODIS Land Group. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey. Instrument: Terra – MODIS

The measurements were made by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

Places where temperatures were up to 20 degrees Celsius below average are blue, locations where temperatures were average are cream-colored, and places where temperatures were above average are red.

Light gray patches show where clouds were so persistent during the week that MODIS could not make measurements of the land surface temperature.

The biggest anomalies were in northern Russia, but a swath of below-average temperatures stretched across the countries around the Baltic Sea as well.

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