Temperatures plunged to almost minus 40 degrees in some countries, and officials warn of disastrous flooding once temperatures rise and the snow melts.
Many of the worst-hit areas were in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, where blackouts and dwindling fuel supplies made it challenging to stay warm.
Ice jams on rivers were posing a real danger that the waterways would overflow into cities, especially along the famed Danube.
Authorities resorted to blasting the ice with explosives in an effort to avert such flooding.
The Arctic blast even brought wintry conditions to North Africa, isolating mountain villages in Libya and Algeria.