A heavy late-winter snowstorm today battered northwestern Europe,causing massive disruptions including the closure of Frankfurt airport and the suspension of trains between Paris and London.
The unseasonal snowfall ‘coming only eight days before the official start of spring’ also knocked out power to thousands of people in France and left hundreds of motorists stranded in their cars.
France was worst affected but Germany,Britain,Belgium and the Netherlands also reported major disruptions.
Frankfurt airport,Europe’s third-busiest hub,announced it had been forced to close due to heavy snow,with more than 200 flights scrapped by late morning. An airport spokesman was unable to say when it would be able to re-open.
The Eurostar high-speed train between London and Paris was also suspended after heavy snowfall on the tracks in northern France and Belgium. Eurostar,however,said it expected services to resume tomorrow.
Nearly a third of France’s regions were on alert and the government activated a ministerial crisis group.
Weather service Meteo France described the snowfall as “remarkable for the season” and warned that alerts would probably remain in place till tomorrow at least.
Hundreds were also stuck in their cars overnight in Britain,some for more than 10 hours as ice,snow and freezing winds descended on southeastern England.
Police,rescue services,snow ploughs and gritting lorries battled to help the motorists in temperatures as low as -3 degrees Celsius,with some areas under 4 inches of snow.
Public transport in Berlin was affected with several regional trains cancelled or severely delayed. There were also a spate of crashes on icy German roads with several people seriously hurt and one dead,according to police.
In Belgium,the snowstorms caused massive traffic disruptions,with vehicles backed up on 1,600 kilometres of freeways due to snowdrifts and ice.
Long traffic jams because of snow and ice also snaked along motorways in the southern Netherlands,hampering travel to and from Belgium after an unseasonal fall of more than 4 inches of snow overnight.