A brutal cold weather front bringing freezing temperatures across Eastern and Central Europe -- one which has resulted in dozens of deaths so far -- hardly seems like ideal marketing material. But one advertising agency has risked a frosty reception from its client by linking their product to the current high pressure weather system causing the frigid conditions. The weather system has been dubbed Cooper, named after the Mini Cooper, a car made by Mini Deutschland.
And there's more to come -- at some point in the future, a low pressure front will be dubbed Minnie. But only after Julia, Katarzyna and Lucina, of course.
The names were requested by the Sassenbach advertising agency in Munich, where Mini's parent company BMW is based, according to Paul Heger from the Institute for Meteorology at the Free University (FU) in Berlin. The institute runs an "Adopt-a-Vortex" scheme, whereby the public can become "weather Godfathers" by giving a name to high and low pressure systems.
It's a simple process -- you can go online and sponsor a high for 299 ($394) or a low for 199 ($262), with the difference in price due to the fact that high pressure systems stay on the weather map for longer. The sponsor puts forward a name which must be acknowledged by the German registry office as an acceptable first name. Hyphenated names and special characters (barring German umlauts) are banned. That means company or product names are only accepted if they are also first names, as is the case with Minnie and Cooper. The sponsor also receives detailed material, including weather maps, charting the "life story" of the weather system.
Adopt-a-Vertex has been running since 2002, and the money raised helps fund weather monitoring carried out by meteorology students at the FU. The institute is the only one outside the US which names weather systems, and has been doing so since 1954.
A "Wind- and Weather-Proof Idea"
Highs are given male names and lows female names in even years, and vice versa in odd years. Each year sees 50 to 60 highs and around 150 lows.
Ironically, Sassenbach sponsored the fronts in honor of the softtop Mini Roadster -- although reports of convertibles being driven around with the top down have been hard to come by during the current Cooper system. The agency said it had wanted a "wind- and weather-proof idea" and encouraged visitors to its website to follow Cooper's "beautiful weather" online.
But the thousands of people suffering in the freezing conditions across Europe would probably use words other than beautiful to describe the weather, with temperatures in some places plunging to minus 33 degrees Celsius. Numerous deaths have been reported in Ukraine and Poland, in addition to victims in Serbia and Bulgaria. The weather, which has blown eastwards from Siberia, where temperatures have sunk as low as minus 45 degrees Celsius, is expected to remain largely unchanged for the rest of the week.
"The high point of the cold weather is likely to be reached on Friday," meteorologist Thomas Ruppert from the German Meteorological Service (DWD), told the German news agency DPA.
Dozens of Deaths Across Europe
The cold snap has claimed at least 30 victims in Ukraine in the past five days, according to the Emergencies Ministry in Kiev. Another 500 people have been treated in hospital for frostbite and other injuries relating to the cold in what has been Ukraine's coldest winter in six years. Some 1,600 centers have been set up to provide make-shift accommodation and dispense food and drinks for homeless people.
At least 10 people have frozen to death in Poland since the weekend, with five victims on Monday night alone according to the country's Interior Ministry. In addition, at least four people have frozen to death in the Baltic States.
"We are dealing with a winter of extremes; first Mediterranean flair with weeks of frost-free nights, and now the sudden change to Arctic conditions," another DWD meteorologist, Jurik Müller, told DPA. "Such weather conditions occur every 20 to 30 years."
dsk -- with wire reports
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