In Prague It’s So Cold the Castle Guard Is Abandoning Its Booths

A freak warming around the North Pole is sending a blast of Arctic cold over Europe, including the Czech Republic where the deep freeze is affecting daily life

Record temperature lows are being reported throughout Europe during a cold blast that is carrying snow and freezing winds across the continent.

To Britons, it’s the Beast of the East, to the Swedes the “snow cannon”, while the Dutch have labeled it the Siberian Bear.

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The Czech Republic (referring to the arctic blast as “Sibiřská zima” or Siberian cold) is no exception—here lows of minus 25.2°C were reached in Rolava; this morning in Krkonoše temps of -21.1°C were recorded and in mid-Bohemia at Ondřejov u Prahy the mercury dipped to-15.1 °C.

Five people have died during the Czech Republic’s cold wave including three homeless people and an elderly couple.

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No one feels the deep freeze more than the Castle Guards, the officers who perform external security duties at the Prague Castle compound.

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Jiří Havel, a spokesperson for the guard, has told Seznam news that the extreme weather has led the battalion to drastically change its daily operations.

When the weather drops to -10°C the guards leave their booths and patrol the castle yard on foot instead, Mr. Havel told a reporter.

He added that thermal clothes are worn beneath uniforms and the usual two-hour rotation is reduced to 20 minutes shifts.

Local temperatures are expected to rise from Sunday onward—in the meantime, the Feb 25 warning issued by meteorologists, asking people to stay inside and check in on elderly neighbors, is still valid for few next days.

The World Meteorological Organization said the chill in Europe was caused by a “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” above the North Pole that led to a split in the polar vortex, a cold area of air above the Arctic that spilled cold south.

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