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Intense Snow Grounds 800 Flights Across Europe

Snow grounds 800 flights across Europe

Travel mess includes 300 miles of traffic jams in Netherlands

Msnbc.com, Dec. 17, 2010
 
BERLIN — Heavy overnight snowfall disrupted air travel across western Europe Friday, forcing more than 800 flight cancellations and leading to major delays in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
 
Below's a round up of disruptions across the continent.
 
Germany: It appeared the hardest hit by the snow, with more than 600 flights canceled, schools forced to close and highways clogged with traffic after scores of accidents that killed at least three people and injured dozens.
 
In Frankfurt, continental Europe's second-biggest hub, 470 of its scheduled 1,400 flights had been canceled by late afternoon. The airport had to be closed for about an hour late Thursday, and an estimated 1,000 passengers were stranded overnight.
 
About 8 inches of snow blanketed the state overnight, also causing the closure of schools around Frankfurt and elsewhere in Hesse.
 
Munich airport, Germany's second-largest, reported 113 cancellations and major delays; Berlin saw 100 cancellations, while Duesseldorf and Stuttgart saw more than 20 each.
 
Roads were clogged, and in North-Rhine Westphalia state alone authorities reported traffic jams of more than 115 miles on highways, and 251 weather-related accidents that left 19 people injured.
 
Officials in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said there were 108 weather-related accidents that left 17 people injured.
 
Two men died in a traffic accident in the southern state of Bavaria, according to authorities. The men, 54 and 44 years old, were trying to help a friend pull his car out of snow near Straubing late Thursday when they were struck by an oncoming car, police said in a statement. In Hesse state a 40-year-old woman died in a pileup on a highway near Frankfurt, police added.
 
Netherlands: Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport saw more than 100 cancellations and major delays ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season, spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said.
 
The European control agency eurocontrol said passengers at Schiphol, one of continental Europe's busiest airports, had to expect delays of up to 4 1/2 hours.
 
Moreover, many passengers whose flights were canceled had their misery compounded by train and bus traffic also being hit hard by the snow, stranding them in Schiphol's terminal buildings.
 
Dutch weather agency KNMI issued a "weather alarm" warning of heavy snowfall and lethal driving conditions in large parts of the western Netherlands as traffic jams grew around major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
 
Highways became covered in ice, two tunnels were closed due to ice and an accident, and 300 miles of traffic jams formed, the Dutch transport group ANWB said.
 
Switzerland: Snow forced the cancellation of about 100 flights. Geneva's airport was closed early Friday morning, though it was open again by midmorning.
 
Switzerland's main airport in Zurich also reported delays, and a total of 84 flights were canceled, spokeswoman Sonja Zoechling said. Geneva saw about 20 flight cancellations.
 
Britain: A wave of snow and icy weather was causing travel problems, with trains canceled, schools shut and cars sliding on icy roads.
 
One motorist in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Kirsty McCullogh, told BBC radio it had taken her five hours to drive 4 miles.
"It's absolutely awful, the roads are sheet ice — they've not been gritted at all," she said.
 
Belfast International Airport was closed Friday morning because of snow, and there were delays and cancellations at other airports including Aberdeen, Birmingham and Luton.
 
British Energy Minister Charles Hendry warned that more bad weather over Christmas could lead to "very serious" shortages of domestic heating oil.
 
Speaking in Parliament, he said higher demand along with delayed deliveries and soaring oil prices meant homes might have to wait as long as four weeks for supplies.
 
Poland: A blast of cold and new train timetables combined to cause chaos on the rail network.

"We have been standing in a field for more than an hour now," said one rail passenger travelling from Warsaw to the southwestern city of Wroclaw on Friday. "The heating was down, all the toilets closed and there was no way to get something hot to drink," she said.
 
Days of rail disruption have led to calls by opposition politicians for the dismissal of Polish Infrastructure Minister Cezary Grabarczyk, who apologized in parliament on Friday for the inconvenience suffered by passengers.
 
Severe cold has already killed 93 people so far this winter in Poland.
 
Italy: The island of Capri woke up to its first snowfall in 25 years, said Luciano Garofano, an official in the mayor's office.
Street cleaners in the chic tourist destination in the Gulf of Naples doused the town's streets with boiling water to melt the ice. Snow also coated beaches on the neighboring island of Ischia, whose thermal waters attract visitors all year round.
 
Denmark: The state postal service reported snow in the past weeks has caused a high number of injuries to the country's 12,000 letter carriers — including broken limbs.
 
PostDanmark reported 355 carriers have so far been injured since November — compared with a total of 450 during last year's entire winter, the B.T. newspaper reported.
 
The postal service has acknowledged that the snow may delay Christmas letters — and most importantly — parcels with presents.
 
France: Even where snow is desperately needed, too much of it proved to be a curse: The women's World Cup super-G downhill skiing event in Val d'Isere was called off due to too heavy snowfall overnight and Friday morning.
 
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40718363/ns/weather/#

 

Snow grounds 450 flights, halts traffic in Germany

The Associated Press, Dec. 17, 2010

 
BERLIN — Heavy overnight snowfall grounded about 450 flights and caused major delays at German airports Friday, forced schools to close and left highways clogged with traffic after scores of accidents that killed at least two people and injured dozens.
 
Snow also hindered flights in the neighboring Netherlands, where Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport saw 30 cancellations and major delays ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season, spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said.
 
The European control agency eurocontrol said passengers at Schiphol, one of continental Europe's busiest airports, had to expect delays of up to 4 1/2 hours.
 
Snow also closed Geneva airport early Thursday morning, though it was open again by midmorning, and flights were also disrupted in Zurich.
 
In Frankfurt, 300 flights had been canceled by late morning, and the number is expected to rise throughout the day, airport spokesman Timo Ross said. About 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow blanketed the state overnight, also causing the closure of schools around Frankfurt and elsewhere in Hesse.
 
The airport, continental Europe's second-biggest hub, had to be closed for about an hour late Thursday, and an estimated 1,000 passengers were stranded overnight, Ross said.
 
Munich airport, Germany's  second-largest, reported 113 cancellations and major delays; Duesseldorf and Stuttgart saw more than 20 cancelations each.
 
Roads were clogged by snow, and in North-Rhine Westphalia state alone authorities reported traffic jams of more than 185 kilometers (115 miles) on highways, and 251 weather-related accidents that left 19 people injured.
 
Officials in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said there were 108 weather-related accidents that left 17 people injured.
 
Two men died in a traffic accident in the southern state of Bavaria, according to authorities. The men, 54 and 44 years old, were trying to help a friend to pull his car out of the snow near Straubing late Thursday when they were struck by an oncoming car, police said in a statement.
 
A wave of snow and icy weather was also causing travel problems across Britain, with trains canceled, schools shut and cars sliding on icy roads.
 
One motorist in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Kirsty McCullogh, told BBC radio it had taken her five hours to drive 4 miles.
"It's absolutely awful, the roads are sheet ice — they've not been gritted at all," she said.
 
Belfast International Airport was closed Friday morning because of snow, and there were delays and cancellations at other airports including Aberdeen, Birmingham and Luton.
 
Switzerland's main airport in Zurich also reported delays, and a total of 84 flights were canceled, spokeswoman Sonja Zoechling said. Geneva saw about 20 flight cancellations.
 
In Denmark, the state postal service reported snow in the past weeks has caused a high number of injuries to the country's 12,000 letter carriers — including broken limbs.
 
PostDanmark reported 355 carriers have so far been injured since November — compared with a total of 450 during last year's entire winter, the B.T. newspaper reported.
 
The postal service has acknowledged that the snow may delay Christmas letters — and most importantly — parcels with presents.
 
Even where snow is desperately needed, too much of it proved to be a curse: The women's World Cup super-G downhill skiing event in Val d'Isere in south-eastern France was called off due to too heavy snowfall overnight and Friday morning.
 
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40713414/ns/weather/