Monday, 13 February 2012 00:00 GFP Columnist - Robert Felix
Is U.S. media trying to ignore it? - "The cold snap in Europe, which began in late January, has killed hundreds and brought deep snow where it hasn't been seen in decades," says this article in the Seattle Times.

This should be front page news. Instead, the article doesn't appear until page eight. And the title, "At least 3 killed in avalanche in Kosovo," belies the seriousness of the situation. (The print version carries a different headline: "Cold snap, snow lock down Europe.")

How about a headline that tells it like it is? "140,000 trapped by snow – Death toll rises past 550".

That headline would give readers a glimpse of what's really happening in Europe, where snow drifts reaching above the rooftops have kept tens of thousands of villagers prisoners in their own homes.

Now, I'll admit that once you get past the ho-hum headline and down to the third paragraph, the Seattle Times article gets to the harsh truth.

You learn that in Montenegro, "the heaviest snow in 63 years sealed off hundreds of villages, shut down roads and railways and closed the main airport." And you learn that "It was the biggest snowfall in the capital since 1949."

You also learn that "boat traffic on the frozen Danube river — one of Europe's key waterways — has been unable to move for the longest time in recent memory." (Italics added.)

The rest of the article is quite informative, and I appreciate that.

But it's that "cold snap" thing that bugs me.

Did all of the world's journalists go to "cold snap" school?

If temperatures go up by a hundredth of a degree they scream "global warming." But if, heaven forbid, it's record cold and record snow? "Well, let's just call it a cold snap."

Would you call it a "cold snap" when more than 100 vessels become trapped in icy waters of the Sea of Azov? That's what Reuters called it. "A fierce cold snap with temperatures of about -25C (-13 F) caused large parts of the Azov Sea to freeze," said Reuters.

Would you call it a "cold snap" when more than 2,000 roads in Turkey are blocked by heavy snows? That's what the Google News headline announced. The article itself was very good, speaking of brutal cold and record low temperatures, but - "cold snap"?

Would you call it a "cold snap" when people have to cut tunnels through 15 feet of snow to get out of their homes? “Eastern Europe has been pummeled by a record-breaking cold snap," says this otherwise great AP article.

Look at these headlines. Are these the result of a "cold snap"?

- 'Serbia cuts power in desperate bid to prevent collapse of national grid'
The country’s entire electric distribution system could collapse...

- 'Hundreds of barns collapse in Italy'
At least one million farm animals in danger of running out of food.

- 'Villages buried under 4-5 meters of snow'
“23.000 people are isolated, how many people and animals have died we don’t know since nobody can reach there.”

- 'Italian villages trapped in more than 9 feet of snow'
With the death toll already at 43, another blast of freezing weather...

- 'Danube freezes over – One of the greatest rivers in Europe'
Danube wholly or partially blocked in six countries.

- 'Most winter grain destroyed in southern and eastern Ukraine'
With temperatures 12 to 17C below average, the situation in Ukraine has became serious.

- 'European death toll rises to 480 – and counting'
150 cattle killed when roofs collapse. "It seems more like a war in Europe.”

- 'Code red for agriculture in Tuscany'
“Blizzard comes and farmers tremble” – Loss rates up to 50%.

- 'Turkey quake survivors fighting the snow'
Walking 300 feet through the snow to reach the nearest toilets.

No, this is no mere cold snap. There's a tragedy unfolding in Europe, and the world needs to know.

Image Courtesy of Ria Novosti - European Cold Snap Damages Rome's Coliseum. Several small fragments from the top of Rome’s Coliseum have fallen away because of the cold snap and bad weather that gripped Italy. Freezing temperatures hit many European countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Ukraine, where extremely low temperatures have killed scores of people.

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