A severe cold spell is gripping parts of central and eastern Europe.

Heavy snow has hit Romania hard in recent days, closing down schools and snarling road and rail traffic. Authorities say more snow and blizzards will hit parts of Romania already paralysed by bad weather, with power outages, thousands stranded in their homes and closed roads.

Four people have died in weather-related incidents in Bulgaria over the past few days. Heavy snow and strong winds have left dozens of villages in the eastern half of the Balkan country without electricity and water.

Temperatures dipped to -22 C (-8 F) in Moscow and -31 C (-24 F) in surrounding regions, making it the coldest day of the year. The temperature was 10 degrees below average for this time of year and expected to drop further.

Snow fell in the central Adriatic coast in Croatia, which is highly unusual because the region has a Mediterranean climate. The ice and snow in the seaside town of Sibenik prompted authorities to close down the schools there. Heavy snow is also falling in neighbouring Montenegro, causing road traffic problems.