Sub-zero spring causes chaos across Europe, US

WARSAW, Poland - Freak blizzards and freezing weather over the first few days of spring have hit Europe and parts of the United States, causing fatal cases of hypothermia, power outages and transport chaos.

In Poland five people have died from exposure since spring arrived on March 21 as overnight temperatures plunged to a bone-chilling minus 24 Celsius (- 11.2 Fahrenheit). This pushed the total death toll this month to 25.

Bad weather has also claimed at least two lives on the British mainland where media have dubbed the unseasonably icy month "Miserable March."

The military was called into action on Tuesday, March 26, to airdrop fodder to farms cut off by freak snow as thousands of homes remained without power for a fifth straight day.

A Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter was deployed in Northern Ireland in a bid to reach remote farms where up to 10,000 animals are believed to have been buried beneath snowdrifts 20 feet (six meters) high.

British bookmakers used to offering bets on a White Christmas now say a White Easter this weekend is more likely than not.

A huge snow storm also wreaked havoc in the US, stretching from St. Louis, Missouri in the mid-west to Washington D.C. on Monday, grounding hundreds of flights.

Nearly a week after the spring equinox, huge swathes of the United States remained deep in winter's clutches. Temperatures hovered well below freezing and snowplows and shovels were pulled back out of sheds.

Back in Europe, Ukraine's capital Kiev was still feeling the effects of Monday's (March 25) record-breaking snowfall, which saw residents skiing down city streets as drivers fumed in vast traffic jams.

Up to 15 centimeters (six inches) of snow also blanketed Romania, shutting down schools and hampering road traffic in three regions, including the capital Bucharest.

Lorries queued for hours on the Serbian side of the border with Hungary amid heavy snowfall as it banned access for vehicles loaded with over 7.5 tons.

Deadly black ice coated roads in neighboring Croatia causing a spate of accidents in central regions of the country, national television reports said.

Meanwhile, heavy winds on the Adriatic coast on Tuesday saw ferry traffic suspended between the Croatian port of Split and surrounding islands.

No injuries were reported Tuesday as violent winds tore the roof off a supermarket in the eastern Czech city of Sternberk.

Both Austria and Belgium saw temperatures plunge to record-lows with forecasters warning the unseasonable cold snap is expected to last past the Easter weekend. -