European deep freeze serves up fun, frustrations and danger

A woman takes pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A woman takes pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Workers in a boat were seen hacking away at ice to create a watery perimeter around the Dutch prime minister’s office, while others in the Netherlands tested the frozen surfaces of lakes and canals to see if they were safe to skate on

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Three workers in a boat hacked away at ice Thursday to create a watery barrier around the Dutch prime minister's office, while others in the Netherlands tentatively tested the frozen surfaces of lakes and canals to see if they were safe to skate on.

The deep freeze gripping large parts of Europe is serving up both fun and frustrations, with heavy snow cutting power to thousands of homes in central Slovakia and snarling traffic in the east of the country, while snow on Dutch roads and sidewalks allowed some parents to pull children to school on sleds instead of riding them on bicycles.

Britain experienced its coldest night for a quarter century, with the temperature falling to minus 22.9 Celsius (minus 9.2 Fahrenheit) in Braemar, northeast Scotland — the lowest recorded in the U.K. since 1995, according to the Met Office weather service.

Most of Britain has experienced days of sub-zero temperatures and snowfall in the wake of winter Storm Darcy. The cold snap froze the famous fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square and forced the temporary closure of some U.K. coronavirus vaccination sites.

Icicles coating a jetty on the frozen inland Ijsselmeer Sea north of Amsterdam drew photographers, while those hanging a house in the central German city of Erfurt attracted the attention of firefighters, who snapped them off.

In France, cold weather and ice alerts were in force for northern swathes of the country, as thermometers dipped well below freezing, making roads and pavements treacherous. Among the coldest places was the riverfront city of Nancy, where the weather bureau reported minus 11 degrees Celsius (12 degrees F) before dawn on Thursday.

Berlin police said a man rescued alive from a frozen pond in the German capital has died. Police said Thursday that firefighters pulled the 43-year-old man out of the water after he had been submerged for more than two hours and managed to revive him, but he died in the hospital Wednesday evening. The man and three others had made holes in the ice to go ice swimming.

Greece, meanwhile, has been enjoying spring-like weather with temperatures in the 20s Celsius range (68 degrees Fahrenheit and up). But the southern nation is set to join the rest of Europe in the deep freeze in the coming days, with snow possible even in the capital, Athens.

In Albania, authorities evacuated several families, hundreds of sheep and thousands of chickens after the Buna River in the northwest burst its banks.

Even if the polar conditions persist, a legendary Dutch ice skating race over frozen canals and lakes in the northern Friesland province will not go ahead.

The organizers confirmed this week that the 11 Cities Tour, which attracts 25,000 participants and up to 1.5 million spectators, will not happen this winter due to the current Dutch coronavirus lockdown. In one of the “cities,” the small town of Hindeloopen, nobody was skating on the canals Thursday morning. A row of twigs jutting out of the frozen surface served as a warning for dangerously thin ice.

With ice likely thick enough soon for people to skate on Hofvijver Lake, which runs along one side of the Dutch parliamentary complex, workers on Thursday made sure that skaters couldn't get right up to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's office by bashing through ice to create a water barrier.

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AP writers around Europe contributed.

Ice covers a canal in Hindeloopen, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Ice covers a canal in Hindeloopen, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Icicles on the fountain in Trafalgar Square with the background of Big Ben as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight in London, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Icicles on the fountain in Trafalgar Square with the background of Big Ben as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight in London, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

People with dogs walk in the sunrise at the Alster in Hamburg, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)
People with dogs walk in the sunrise at the Alster in Hamburg, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)

Credit: Christian Charisius

Credit: Christian Charisius

The statue of a fountain in Trafalgar Square is covered in ice as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight in London, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The statue of a fountain in Trafalgar Square is covered in ice as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight in London, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Firefighters break large icicles from the gutter of a house in the city centre of Erfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. Arctic polar air continues to cause severe frost in Germany. (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)
Firefighters break large icicles from the gutter of a house in the city centre of Erfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. Arctic polar air continues to cause severe frost in Germany. (Martin Schutt/dpa via AP)

Credit: Martin Schutt

Credit: Martin Schutt

A swan flaps its wings during sunrise on the partially frozen Heron Pond, in Bushy Park, south west London, as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Britain's Met Office said Thursday temperatures dropped overnight to -22.9 degrees Celsius in Braemar, Scotland, making it provisionally the coldest night in the United Kingdom since 1995. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A swan flaps its wings during sunrise on the partially frozen Heron Pond, in Bushy Park, south west London, as temperatures dropped below freezing overnight, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Britain's Met Office said Thursday temperatures dropped overnight to -22.9 degrees Celsius in Braemar, Scotland, making it provisionally the coldest night in the United Kingdom since 1995. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Credit: Matt Dunham

Credit: Matt Dunham

Skaters play hockey on the ice that settled on the Oresund strait, Wednesday Feb, 10, 2021, at Bunkeflostrand a suburb of Malmo, Sweden, south of the Oresund Bridge. (Johan Nilsson/TT via AP)
Skaters play hockey on the ice that settled on the Oresund strait, Wednesday Feb, 10, 2021, at Bunkeflostrand a suburb of Malmo, Sweden, south of the Oresund Bridge. (Johan Nilsson/TT via AP)

Credit: Johan Nilsson

Credit: Johan Nilsson

People take pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People take pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A woman takes pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
A woman takes pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

Three men in a boat hacked away at ice to create a watery perimeter around the Dutch prime minister's office in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. With ice likely thick enough in coming days for people to skate on the Hofvijver lake that fringes one side of the Dutch parliamentary complex, workers made sure the skaters couldn't get right up to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's office by bashing through ice. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
Three men in a boat hacked away at ice to create a watery perimeter around the Dutch prime minister's office in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. With ice likely thick enough in coming days for people to skate on the Hofvijver lake that fringes one side of the Dutch parliamentary complex, workers made sure the skaters couldn't get right up to Prime Minister Mark Rutte's office by bashing through ice. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

Credit: Mike Corder

Credit: Mike Corder

People skate on Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)
People skate on Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

People skate on the ice of frozen flood plains of Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)
People skate on the ice of frozen flood plains of Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

People skate on Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)
People skate on Nederrijn river near Doorwerth, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Aleksandar Furtula)

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

Credit: Aleksandar Furtula

Icicles hanging from a branch in Hattenheim, Germany, Thurday, Feb.11, 2021. In the coming days, it is expected to remain wintry cold in large parts of Germany. (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)
Icicles hanging from a branch in Hattenheim, Germany, Thurday, Feb.11, 2021. In the coming days, it is expected to remain wintry cold in large parts of Germany. (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

Credit: Boris Roessler

Credit: Boris Roessler

A thick layer of ice has formed at temperatures of minus five degrees on the pier on the island of Ruegen, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. The bridge is closed to pedestrians because of the icing. (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)
A thick layer of ice has formed at temperatures of minus five degrees on the pier on the island of Ruegen, Germany, Thursday, Feb.11, 2021. The bridge is closed to pedestrians because of the icing. (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

Credit: Jens Buettner

Credit: Jens Buettner

A man walks in snowy conditions in Braemar, Scotland, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021, which had an overnight temperature of minus 23.0C (minus 9.4F). The village, which is near Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II, recorded the lowest recorded temperature in the UK in more than two decades, following an "extreme freeze". (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
A man walks in snowy conditions in Braemar, Scotland, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021, which had an overnight temperature of minus 23.0C (minus 9.4F). The village, which is near Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II, recorded the lowest recorded temperature in the UK in more than two decades, following an "extreme freeze". (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Credit: Jane Barlow

Credit: Jane Barlow

Snowy conditions in Braemar, Scotland, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021, which had an overnight temperature of minus 23.0C (minus 9.4F). The village, which is near Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II, recorded the lowest recorded temperature in the UK in more than two decades, following an "extreme freeze". (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
Snowy conditions in Braemar, Scotland, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021, which had an overnight temperature of minus 23.0C (minus 9.4F). The village, which is near Balmoral Castle, the summer residence of Queen Elizabeth II, recorded the lowest recorded temperature in the UK in more than two decades, following an "extreme freeze". (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

Credit: Jane Barlow

Credit: Jane Barlow

People take pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
People take pictures of icicles on a jetty at the Afsluitdijk, a dike separating IJsselmeer inland sea, rear, and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. The deep freeze gripping parts of Europe served up fun and frustration with heavy snow cutting power to some 37,000 homes in central Slovakia. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Credit: Peter Dejong

Credit: Peter Dejong

A woman takes a photograph of icicles hanging from branches in Epping Forest on the edge of London as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021.  Overnight temperatures dropped below freezing overnight. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)
A woman takes a photograph of icicles hanging from branches in Epping Forest on the edge of London as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation, Thursday Feb. 11, 2021. Overnight temperatures dropped below freezing overnight. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

Credit: Victoria Jones

Credit: Victoria Jones

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