Snow Hampers Travel in Europe, Forcing Gatwick, Edinburgh Airports to Shut
Snowstorms and freezing temperatures disrupted travel across Europe as airports from London to Amsterdam halted flights and Eurostar Group Ltd. said train cancelations are likely to continue over the weekend.
London’s Gatwick airport, the U.K.’s second busiest, will be closed until at least 6 a.m. local time tomorrow, according to its website. Dublin suspended services and Air France-KLM Group called off all European flights from Amsterdam Schiphol after runways were covered in snow. Airports in Edinburgh, Geneva and London City resumed operations during the day.
In the U.K., the earliest widespread snowfall since 1993 has frozen over roads, disrupting traffic, with icy weather likely to last until at least Dec. 8, according to private forecaster British Weather Services. The worst-hit areas overnight were south London, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire with as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow, said Robin Thwaytes, a spokesman for the state-funded Met Office.
“We’ve had unprecedented levels of snow over the last couple of days,” Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate said in a phone interview. “It’s only in the past few hours that it has started to ease.” The airport will suffer continued disruption even if it opens as planned tomorrow morning, he said.
Eurostar canceled seven services from Paris to London and six in the other direction, plus five each way between the U.K. capital and Brussels, to avoid a repeat of last winter’s breakdowns in the Channel Tunnel. Speed restrictions in both the U.K. and northern France will create delays of as much as 90 minutes for other services, Eurostar said on its website, adding that further disruptions are likely tomorrow and at the weekend.
Go-Ahead Group Plc’s Southern Railway Ltd. has suspended its operations except for limited service between London Bridge and East Croydon and London Victoria and East Croydon, and Brighton and Eastbourne and Littlehampton and Chichester, the company said on its website. Trains are set to resume running on the Brighton mainline later today.
Dublin airport aims to resume operations at about 6:30 p.m. local time after clearing snow and ice from the runway, taxiways and apron areas, according to its website. BAA Ltd. said London’s Heathrow airport was operating normally, but faced delays and cancellations because of disruptions elsewhere.
Further snow showers added 5 to 10 centimeters across much of eastern Britain today, with depths of as much as 70 centimeters in some places, the Met Office said on its website. Weather warnings have been issued for the southwest, with as much as 15 centimeters in some parts of Cornwall.
The area affected most in the U.K. today was the south, from Kent through Dorset, said Paul Watters, a spokesman for the Automobile Association. The rescue service responded to 18,000 calls yesterday, and had 100,000 in the past six days, he said. the second-largest Czech city, and Pilsen.
At least one person was found dead last night because of the freezing weather in the Czech Republic and eight people in Poland, newswire CTK reported.
Fresh snowfall also blanketed Germany last night, exceeding 15 centimeters in some parts of the southeast. Temperatures will drop as low as minus-20 degrees Celsius in central Germany and very cold weather will persist until at least Dec. 4, according to the German Weather Service.
“We’re selling masses of scarves, woolly hats and gloves at the moment,” said Hartmut Scheller, a store owner in Berlin’s southwestern suburb of Steglitz. “If temperatures persist at these lows, we’ll soon be out of stock.”
Eighteen long-distance trains operated by Deutsche Bahn AG were stalled overnight after snow blocked railways across the country and passengers were either driven to hotels or supplied with food and drinks in their railcars, spokeswoman Kathrin Fellenberg said. Regional and high-speed traffic experienced further delays throughout the day, she said.
Frankfurt airport, Germany’s busiest, canceled 57 flights today, largely because of closures at other airports, Fraport AG spokeswoman Stefanie Wagener said by telephone, adding that the main runway opened again after the wind died down overnight. About 100 flights were called off in Munich, said Florian Steuer, an airport spokesman, adding that the airport expected no further cancellations.
About 100 of a scheduled 600 to 650 flights were canceled at Berlin’s Schoenefeld and Tegel airports, spokesman Leif Erichsen said. A Deutsche Lufthansa AG spokesman, Thomas Jachnow, said the airline had been forced to cancel a number of Berlin flights, adding that conditions in the German capital were similar to those at other airports in Europe.
France’s DGAC civil aviation authority ordered the cancellation of one in four flights from Paris Charles de Gaulle today and one in ten from Orly, the city’s other major airport, according to an e-mailed statement.
Hundreds of vehicles were stranded early this morning in northern and western France after renewed snowfalls. The main RN12 highway along the northern coast of Brittany was closed and hundreds of heavy trucks taken off the roads in Normandy, AFP reported, citing the French meteorological agency.
U.K. same-day gas rose for a fifth day, the longest upward trend since October last year, with gas for today advancing 4 percent to 64.25 pence a therm as of 4:46 p.m. in London, according to broker data on Bloomberg. About 80 percent of the country’s homes and businesses use natural gas for heating. It’s also used to generate about half of Britain’s electricity supply.
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