Severe winter weather strikes western Europe

24th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

Hamburg (dpa) - Severe winter weather made its first appearance of 2007 in parts of Germany, Austria, Britain France, Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with heavy snowfalls causing traffic chaos in places but also smiles on the faces of winter tourism managers. In the southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, three persons were killed and 34 persons injured from among some 460 accidents reported. The Stuttgart airport was closed down overnight amid the heavy snow, whil

Hamburg (dpa) - Severe winter weather made its first appearance of 2007 in parts of Germany, Austria, Britain France, Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with heavy snowfalls causing traffic chaos in places but also smiles on the faces of winter tourism managers.

In the southern German states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, three persons were killed and 34 persons injured from among some 460 accidents reported.

The Stuttgart airport was closed down overnight amid the heavy snow, while the Munich airport was forced to cancel 20 flights. The snow also resulted in delayed train services in Germany.

In the Czech Republic, Prague's airport was closed down during the night while border crossings with Germany and Austria were particularly badly hit by the snowfalls.

In Spain, heavy snowfalls in the northern part of the country forced the closure of more than 20 mountain passes.

In Britain, the first major snowfalls disrupted public transport services as British Airways (BA) said it had cancelled 16 short-haul flights from London airports due to the wintry conditions.

Road and rail traffic was particularly hard hit in the south-east of London, as the wintry weather moved down from northern parts of Britain.

The disruption was most acute in the London area and its immediate surroundings as commuters struggled to get to work.

BA said the problems at Heathrow airport, where 13 flights were cancelled, were due to de-icing. A further three flights from Gatwick airport were scrapped and there were delays of up to an hour.

In France, heavy snowfall in the southern and eastern parts of the country deprived some 100,000 households of electricity and disrupted traffic.

The utility company EDF said that heavy snowfall in the departments of Auvergne and Limousin caused power lines to break, cutting electricity to at least 100,000 homes. In addition, the snow and icy conditions made repair difficult, an EDF spokesman said.

The snow also closed down an important motorway linking Paris with destinations in the south. About 1,000 lorries were still trapped on the road early Wednesday, police officials reported.

In Switzerland, heavy snows threatened the logistics of the World Economic Forum in the mountain resort city of Davos. WEF officials said helicopters being used to bring in VIPs could not land, forcing participants to use overland travel to the mile-high city.

In Austria, heavy snowfalls - 1 metre over the previous 24 hours - created chaotic traffic situations in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia, with a number of roads and major highways becoming impassable. At least 12,000 households in the area were affected by power outages, caused by snow and falling trees damaging the grid.

But amid the problems, Austrian tourism managers were expressing relief at the snowy onslaught after what so far had been only meagre snowfalls which had threatened skiing industry, a major part of the economy in the alpine regions.

The snowfalls arrived just in time for the skiing season's most intensive tourism period, from February to April.

In Italy, temperatures plunged in many regions of the country, while gusts brought down trees, advertising billboards, electricity poles and television antennas around Rome and Naples. Rough seas interrupted ferry connections between Sicily and its smaller islands.

The bad weather forced dozens of flight cancellations at Rome's international Fiumicino airport, where only one runway was fully functioning.

The arrival of winter was, however, welcomed in Italy's Alpine ski resorts, where heavy snow finally whitened pistes and salvaged what had risked becoming a disastrous season for its operators.

DPA

Subject: German news

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