Scottish airports hit as Britain shivers in cold snap

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Britain shivered Monday as an unseasonal cold snap gripped the kingdom, with temperatures below freezing and snow flurries trapping hundreds of motorists and causing travel chaos.

Snow played havoc with Scottish airports with the country's busiest, Edinburgh, shut until at least 1400 GMT, while Glasgow reopened following a closure and Aberdeen was open but its runways had to be cleared.

Amid the earliest widespread British winter snowfall since 1993, the chilliest spot was in Scotland, with an overnight low of minus 16.1 degrees Celsius (three Fahrenheit) reached in Altnaharra in the northern Highlands.

The BBC reported that hundreds of motorists had been trapped in their cars in Scotland, with a rest centre set up in Perth to assist more than 650 people who had been stranded overnight.

Llysdinam, which saw Wales's coldest ever November reading on Sunday at minus 18C (minus 0.4F), was a bit warmer overnight at minus 12.9C (8.8F).

The weather was forecast to worsen with snow spreading inland and some temperatures plunging as low as minus 20C (minus four F), forecasters warned.

The unusual weather has been caused by high pressure over Greenland and low pressure in the Baltic, forcing cold winds from the north-east across Europe.

Britain's Met Office national weather service issued severe weather warnings for the country's eastern flank, saying snow showers would continue to affect many parts.

Northeast England was among the regions blanketed in snow, with the landmark "Angel of the North" sculpture outside Newcastle spreading its wings over picture postcard wintry scenes.

English Premier League football side Chelsea were forced to take a seven-hour coach ride back to London on Sunday following their 1-1 draw at Newcastle after disruption to their planned flight home.

The weather has disrupted several sporting events -- Dundee United's Scottish Premier League match against champions Rangers was cancelled.

Hundreds of schools were closed nationwide.

A number of roads in Northern Ireland's second city Londonderry went untreated after thugs smashed the windows of salt gritting trucks.

The bitterly cold weather caught out two suspected thieves in Leigh, northwest England, after police followed a trail of frozen water which dripped from a stolen boiler.

© 2010 AFP

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