A sharp cold snap (Cyclone Axel) hit Belarus on 5 January 2017, with heavy snowfalls accompanied by frost and strong winds. Temperatures dropped down to 25‐29 degrees Celsius below zero, and in some places even to minus 31‐34 Celsius degrees. The country's meteorological service issued an orange weather warning. Invasion of cold arctic air masses from the north of European Russia followed on 6 January.
Many Belarusian citizens, especially homeless, were unprepared for severe frosts and snowfalls. Within one night, snow layers reached up to 18‐22 cm. Snow caused a large number of road accidents, including those with intercity buses, leaving the drivers and travellers stranded for hours on highways. In addition, the wind was 19‐22 meters per second according to the Belarusian hydro‐ meteorological centre. According to the data reported on 11 January 2017, it is estimated that 539 people (including 31 children) were traumatized and 10 died of hypothermia. (IFRC, 24 Jan 2017)