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Extremely Low Temperatures Recorded on Monday in Greece (Pics)

ATHENS — Extreme cold prevailed on Monday morning on the Greek mainland and particularly in the region of Western Macedonia, with the temperatures dropped as low as -19 degrees Celsius.

The lowest temperatures in Greece recorded by the automated weather stations of the National Observatory of Athens meteo.gr network were in Mesovouno Kozani (-19.3C), Koilada Kozanis (-19.3C), Kitrini Limni Kozanis (-17.6C), Nevrokopi (-15.7C) and Florina (-15.5C).

Extreme cold has also hit large parts of Europe, with freezing temperatures cracking railroad tracks in Poland, snow blanketing the Turkish city of Istanbul and smog spiking as coal was being burned to generate heat.

In eastern Albania temperatures dipped as low as minus 13 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) in Peshkopi, 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of the capital Tirana.

The deep freeze has caused water supply pipes to freeze and created dangerous driving conditions. The icy roads in the city of Pogradec prevented firefighters from arriving in time at a home fire in which a man died early Monday.

The man's brother, Nikolin Xhukellari, told the Balkanweb online portal that he managed to get his two children and wife out of the building but his brother, who was on the second floor, could not escape.

In Istanbul, traffic was brought to a halt by the layer of snow covering the city, with cars stalled or skidding on the roads.

Temperatures dropped to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 18 Fahrenheit) in some Polish areas overnight, the coldest night in 11 years. Many trains were delayed on Monday after rail tracks at two Warsaw railway stations cracked.

Hand-in-hand with the cold came a spike in smog in Warsaw and other parts of Poland, as the cold prompted an increase in burning coal for heat. The smog levels were so high in Warsaw that city officials urged people to remain indoors.

Just across Poland's southwestern border, the Czech Republic experienced the coldest night this year with temperatures dropping below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in many places.

The lowest temperature, of minus 27 degrees Celsius (minus 16 Fahrenheit), was recorded Monday in Orlicke Zahori, a mountainous village 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Prague and near the Polish border, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.

The freezing weather was expected to ease and be replaced by heavy snowfall in the northeastern Czech Republic, the institute said.

In Germany, fresh snow, slippery roads and fallen trees led to several car accidents on Sunday and overnight, the dpa news agency reported. A driver died in southwestern Germany after his car shot over a mound of snow.

The Nordic region — where winter weather is the norm — also saw snow and subfreezing temperatures, with the coldest temperatures predictably recorded in the Arctic. Norway's meteorological institute tweeted a tongue-in-cheek message on Monday, saying: "we encourage all knitting lovers to send woolen clothes to their friends in the north."

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