Europe is currently in the grip of (= not able to escape) severe weather. Here are some useful words and phrases to describe winter weather and its effects.
A band of snow has brought with it Siberian temperatures. Daytime temperatures are more than five degrees lower than average, with sub-zero temperatures (below 0C) recorded.
In some places, sleet (= icy rain) is falling instead of snow. Strong winds have blown the snow into snowdrifts (= piles of snow), which block the roads. Blizzards and freezing fog reduce visibility and create treacherous conditions (= very dangerous conditions).
More than just a "cold snap" (= brief period of cold weather) this winter is breaking all the records. More than two metres of snow has fallen in some places. Lakes (and even parts of the sea) have frozen over, and icicles (= long piece of frozen water) hang from roofs and windows.
This freak weather (= very unusual weather) has caused widespread disruption to services. Severe weather warnings have been issued by the authorities, and in many places, the treacherous driving conditions mean that motorists need to have snow tyres or snowchains on. However, many motorists have got stuck or have broken down on blocked roads, and there are many more emergency call-outs (= when you call someone in an agency to come and help you) than usual. Drivers should only venture out (= try to make a journey) when strictly necessary, and to head out with warm clothes, a shovel (= to clear away snow) and a fully-charged mobile phone.
The authorities have used snow ploughs, salt spreaders and gritters (= all machines to clear the snow or to put salt and grit on the roads to prevent ice) to clear the roads. Schools and public offices are closed, and there arereduced transport services, with some airports closed, flights grounded, and trains cancelled. Main roads have been closed to heavy vehicles (= lorries / trucks). Sports fixtures (= football games, etc) have also beenpostponed (= delayed to another date).
High winds have brought down power lines (= power cables) in some areas, leading to power cuts. Many homes have been left without electricity or heating, while in some regions, there's a risk that gas supplies will run out.