Snow: Bad for traffic, good for business

24th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

LYON, France, Jan 23, 2007 (AFP) - Snow brought traffic chaos to much of eastern France and parts of Switzerland on Tuesday but offered a degree of hope to ski resorts who have been forced to close because of mild weather during much of the season so far.

LYON, France, Jan 23, 2007 (AFP) - Snow brought traffic chaos to much of eastern France and parts of Switzerland on Tuesday but offered a degree of hope to ski resorts who have been forced to close because of mild weather during much of the season so far.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 motorists were stuck in their cars in eastern France and lorries, several of which had jackknifed on motorways in the region during the day, were banned from circulating.

At least 85,000 homes had their power supply cut off and the national electricity company EDF said it would take several days to restore.

Rail transport was severely disrupted in some places and school buses were cancelled.

With temperatures expected to continue falling, after a period of almost spring-like weather, the French authorities introduced an emergency plan to provide extra beds for the homeless. The plan kicks in if the mercury drops to zero degrees Celcius (32 Fahrenheit) during the day and between minus five and minus 10 degrees Celcius (23 and 14 F) at night.

In Switzerland, part of the San Bernardino pass linking the north of the country to southern Europe was shut because of snow. Heavy lorries were ordered not to use the worst affected roads.

Around 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow had fallen in the Swiss Alps by Tuesday evening and up to 40 (16 inches) on the French side of the mountains, bringing relief to ski resorts just three weeks before the February school holidays.

Many of the lower ski stations had been forced to shut in January because the weather was so mild there was just grass and rocks on many slopes.

A report published last month warned that the Alps are particularly sensitive to global warming and that their lucrative ski industry could collapse unless action was taken to curb the greenhouse gases spewed out by fossil fuels.

"Climate change poses serious risks to the snow reliability of Alpine ski areas and consequently to the regional economies that depend upon winter tourism," the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on December 13.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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