Big freeze causes widespread chaos

Thursday 02nd Dec 2010 by theWeather Club

As the snow and ice continue to cause transport chaos around the UK, we should spare a thought for our European neighbours. There is a perception that as they tend to get snow more often, the bad weather doesn’t hit them as hard, but this not always the case. The recent heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures have been causing disruption to much of northern Europe's transport network. Severe flight delays were reported at airports in Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Prague and Paris. Eurostar trains from France faced cancellations or delays, while snowfall trapped hundreds of motorists in Brittany and Normandy. Forecasters say that the freezing conditions will continue for days as the low-pressure front centred over western Europe moves slowly eastward. "We've got unusually cold air over large parts of the eastern Atlantic, and where that meets warm air coming for example from the Mediterranean you have a lot of snow," said Heinz Maurer of Meteosuisse, the Swiss national weather service. After being forced to close for 36 hours Geneva airport reopened on Thursday morning, but was advising that passengers arrive a full two hours before the departure time.

It is expected to be another day of delays and cancellations on rail services across Europe, and of widespread problems on roads. Belgium has seen 587km of traffic jams on its motorways, and it is being reported that much of the country's secondary road network remains under deep snow. As temperatures in Poland dropped to as low as -26C, there was a reminder that the freezing temperatures can be a lot more serious than causing a difficult trip to work. Eight people reportedly died of exposure on in the country on Wednesday. Five others succumbed to the cold weather in central Europe and two in the UK.