Snow causes chaos across Europe


Deer are seen in a pasture as snow covers the landscape near Schinnen, southern Netherlands (AP)

Heavy snow has caused chaos across Europe, shutting down airport runways, forcing fast trains to a crawl and leaving cars skidding through icy, slushy streets on a weekend where many people were trying to head home for the holidays.

Frankfurt airport cancelled around 40% of flights and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle cut air traffic by a quarter as heavy snow blanketed the French capital – a rarity that has occurred several times in recent days during an unusually cold winter.

Many passengers slept overnight in makeshift dormitories there, and at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, one of Europe’s busiest hubs for air passengers.

In northern France, TGV fast trains were running slower than usual, tacking about 20 minutes on to each journey. Eurostar trains to Britain and Thalys trains to Belgium and the Netherlands were also affected.

In Italy, Florence’s airport remained closed due to the snow and ice storms that blanketed Tuscany. At Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest, more than 500 flights were cancelled out of a planned total of 1,330 departures and arrivals.

While the runways at Frankfurt itself were clear, flights were disrupted by problems elsewhere in Europe, with some passengers left waiting for their flights since Friday.

Germany’s Lufthansa cancelled several domestic and regional services to and from its main hub, though long-haul flights were little affected.

In Amsterdam, Schiphol spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said the airport’s snow plough teams had cleared three runways, and planes were arriving and leaving. However, because of problems at other European airports some 30 flights had been cancelled by late morning.

In Scandinavia, where temperatures in some places dipped to below -20C, meteorologists warned snow was piling up on the icy roads following heavy snowfall and strong winds. While airports were operating normally, several long-distance trains were delayed, and many commuter train departures around the city of Malmo in southern Sweden were cancelled.

Bad weather also forced the Dutch football association to postpone the league classic between archrivals Ajax and Feyenoord.

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