A strong spell of cold weather gripped Poland on the weekend of January 2, 2016. Temperatures dropped to -17.8 ºC (0 ºF) causing 21 people to freeze to death.

After unseasonably mild Christmas weather in the period between December 18 and 28, 2015, conditions swiftly changed and low temperatures, below the freezing point, set in by New Year’s Eve across Poland, Nick Wiltgen, the senior meteorologist of Weather.com said.

Video credit: AFP

Usually, high seasonal temperatures in Warsaw range between 0.5 and 1.7 (33 and 35 ºF) and low temperatures are near -3.9 ºC (25 ºF). During a period of mild weather, high temperatures of 14.4 ºC (58 ºF) were observed, which was close to an all-time December record of 15.6 ºC(60 ºF).

21 people have been reported dead since January 2, and since November 1, 2015, a total number of deaths due to cold, snow and ice conditions is at 40.

The high number of fatalities has been reported among the mountaineers since December 25. Six tourists slipped and died due to frozen conditions in the Polish Tatra Mountains while seven others were reported dead on the Slovak part of the mountain. An appeal for tourists to give up tracking trips on mountains higher than 2 650 m (8 694 feet) has been issued by the local rescue services.

Featured image: Below-zero temperatures in Poland, January 2, 2015. Image credit: AFP

The Watchers » Extreme cold