Deep Freeze Paralyzes Europe
Europe deaths from deep freeze reach 40
The Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2010
WARSAW, Poland — A deadly Arctic cold continued to disrupt life across on Europe pm Friday, bringing chaos to roads and frustration to travelers off all kinds, while the number of people who died of exposure rose to at least 40.
Southeastern Europe was spared the snow and ice — but was instead struggling with some of the worst flooding in a century. Entire villages in Montenegro were submerged by the rising waters, with Interior Minister Ivan Brajovic describing the floods as "unprecedented."
It's "an early start to the winter because we are still in the autumn season," said Omar Baddour, a scientist with the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva. "It's not very, very unusual, but it is an extreme winter spell that is going to last a few days."
Baddour said that the cold comes from north-south winds pushing an Arctic chill over the continent, a phenomenon also seen at the start of last year's long and frigid winter. Most of the time, winds blow from west to east over Europe.
But he said it's too soon to say what the early winter weather— which usually sets in around Christmas — might herald for the continent this year.
In many parts of Europe, train services continued to see heavy disruptions because of icy rails, but air traffic was returning to normal in many places. Britain's Gatwick Airport reopened after heavy snowfall forced a 48-hour closure, though its website warned of delays and cancellations as freezing temperatures persisted. London's Heathrow Airport was operating, but 45 arrivals and 25 departures were canceled.
The Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris was again operating normally. but many areas of France faced traffic problems because of the snow.
In Poland, police reported 12 deaths overnight, raising the death toll there to 30 over the past three days. Police were carrying out street patrols in hopes of getting drunks and homeless people into shelters since they make up the bulk of those who freeze to death each year.
Animal lovers in Poland were also mobilizing, with some opening their cellars to stray cats and others pulling ducks from frozen lakes. Foresters have also been putting out fodder for bison, elk and other forest-dwellers.
In the Czech Republic, the death toll rose to four after a man was found frozen in Prague. In Germany, three people have now been killed, while authorities in northern England said they had found the bodies of two elderly residents this week who are believed to have frozen to death.
Authorities in the Alpine nation of Austria — no stranger to cold and snow — reported one death earlier in the week. The weather delayed some flights at Vienna's airport, where officials said a crew of about 80 people were working nonstop to clear runways and de-ice aircraft.
Just across the border in Slovakia, the snow caused traffic snarls in the capital, Bratislava, while a hospital in the eastern city of Presov treated dozens for injuries blamed on the snow.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency in three Balkan countries — Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro — and evacuated hundreds of people after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding along the Drina River — the worst in 104 years. But floodwaters receded significantly overnight in Bosnia, leaving a trail of mud and debris in many areas.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Snow grounds planes, trains across Europe
Death toll rises, while Balkans area sees worst flooding in a century
The Associated Press, Dec. 2, 2010
BERLIN — Freezing temperatures and often blinding snowfall killed 12 more people and caused travel chaos across northern Europe on Thursday, while some of the worst floods in a century devastated parts of the Balkans.
Airports closed down or delayed flights across the continent, roads were coated in an impassible mix of ice and snow and even Europe's vaulted high-speed trains struggled to cope.
Gatwick Airport, one of Britain's busiest, was closed for a second straight day, canceling another 600 flights as conditions continued to deteriorate. Edinburgh Airport and London's City Airport were also closed until at least late evening, according to Eurocontrol, the air traffic agency.
Significant delays also hit airports at London Heathrow, Amsterdam's Schiphol, Berlin's Tegel and Duesseldorf. In Geneva, the airport reopened only after removing 2,000 tractor-trailers full of snow from the runways.
France's main airports also suffered cancellations, with about 25 percent of all scheduled flights — a total of about 300 — out of Paris Charles de Gaulle scrapped, along with another 10 percent of flights out of Paris Orly, according to the DGAC aviation authority.
Travelers hoping to fare better by road or rail were equally stymied as snow continued to fall across the U.K. and most of Germany, leaving thousands of motorists stranded overnight in their cars.
Some 3,000 stranded rail passengers struggled to sleep overnight in their trains, German railway operator Deutsche Bahn said. Another 200 passengers in Frankfurt spent the night in parked trains after local hotels fill to overflowing.
Nothing was moving along many of Germany's high-speed train links, such as between Nuremberg and Leipzig in the south and east, or between Hamburg and the Danish capital Copenhagen in the north.
In Poland, the cold claimed 10 more lives, bringing the overall deaths there to 18, police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said, as police scourged the streets for homeless or drunk people in hopes of saving their lives.
Two deaths were reported in Germany, a 73-year-old in Lower Saxony who was struck by a train why trying to clear snow and an 18-year-old in Baden-Wuerttemberg, who lost control of his vehicle on an icy road and crashing into a truck.
Authorities in Berlin kept subway stations, soup kitchens and heated buses open all night to provide shelter for the city's homeless.
Southeastern Denmark was also badly hit, and heavy snowfalls and icy winds severely hampered road and rail traffic. The Danish army used tracked armored personnel carriers to help ambulances and other emergency vehicles cut their way through mounds of snow.
Heavy snowfall in Poland created treacherous situations on many of the country's already abysmal roads. Thousands of Polish homes were left without electricity or heat as temperatures hovered around minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).
Traffic was also chaotic in Germany, with hundreds of minor accidents. Police in Berlin alone counted 121 accidents Thursday morning.
A deep freeze gripped Sweden, with the lowest temperatures overnight Thursday measuring minus 29.6 Celsius (minus 85.3 Fahrenheit) in Lillhardal in the center of the country.
Flooding in south
Authorities declared a state of emergency in three Balkan countries on Thursday — Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro — and were evacuating hundreds of people after heavy rainfall caused severe flooding along the Drina River — the worst in 104 years, officials said.
"From my terrace, I no longer see a river, but a lake that has flooded parts of the town's center," said Muris Razanica, whose hillside hotel has a stunning view of the Bosnian town of Gorazde.
"This area is famous for rafting but if this goes on, big ships will be able to dock in Gorazde, it's really unbelievable," he added as the federal army turned out to help evacuate people.
Tourist agencies in Bosnia handed over their rafts so Civil Protection workers could rescue people from apartments in Foca, where water levels has reached the first floor. Those who dared remain on upper floors were given food and water.
On the other side of the river, authorities in Serbia and Montenegro evacuated hundreds of people as the Drina flooded farms and roads. Schools were closed, many people had no electricity or heat and water supplies were contaminated along the river in all three countries.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.