Snow grounds European air travel
Cars and trucks make their way across the snowy motorway A3 near Wiesbaden-Breckenheim, western Germany on Dec. 17, 2010. Heavy snowfall during the night caused obstructions of traffic all over Germany. (JUERGEN MAHNKE/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN—Heavy overnight snowfall grounded about 450 flights and caused major delays at German airports Friday, forced schools to close, left highways clogged with traffic and caused scores of accidents that killed at least two people.
Snow also hindered flights in the neighbouring Netherlands, where Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport saw 30 cancellations and major delays ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season, spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said.
The European control agency eurocontrol said passengers at Schiphol, one of continental Europe’s busiest airports, had to expect delays of up to 4 ½ hours.
Some flights set to arrive in the GTA from Frankfurt and Munich are delayed by a few hours.
However, as of Friday morning most outbound flights headed to Germany were on time and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority was reporting no major delays.
Snow also closed Geneva airport early Thursday morning, though it was open again by midmorning, and flights were also disrupted in Zurich.
In Frankfurt, 300 flights had been cancelled by late morning, and the number is expected to rise throughout the day, airport spokesman Timo Ross said. About 20 centimetres of snow blanketed the state overnight, also causing the closure of schools around Frankfurt and elsewhere in Hesse.
The airport, continental Europe’s second-biggest hub, had to be closed for about an hour late Thursday, and an estimated 1,000 passengers were stranded overnight, Ross said.
Munich airport, Germany’s second-largest, reported 86 cancellations and major delays; Duesseldorf saw more than 20 cancellations.
Roads were clogged by snow, and in North-Rhine Westphalia state alone authorities reported traffic jams of more than 115 miles on highways, and 251 weather-related accidents that left 19 people injured.
Two men died in a traffic accident in the southern state of Bavaria, according to authorities. The men, 54 and 44 years old, were trying to help a friend to pull his car out of the snow near Straubing late Thursday when they were struck by an oncoming car, police said in a statement.
A wave of snow and icy weather was also causing travel problems across Britain, with trains cancelled, schools shut and cars sliding on icy roads.
One motorist in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Kirsty McCullogh, told BBC radio it had taken her five hours to drive 4 miles.
“It’s absolutely awful, the roads are sheet ice — they’ve not been gritted at all,” she said.
Belfast International Airport was closed Friday morning because of snow, and there were delays and cancellations at other airports including Aberdeen, Birmingham and Luton.
In Denmark, the state postal service reported snow in the past weeks has caused a high number of injuries to the country’s 12,000 letter carriers — including broken limbs.
PostDanmark reported 355 carriers have so far been injured since November — compared with a total of 450 during last year’s entire winter, the B.T. newspaper reported.
PostDanmark has acknowledged that the snow may delay Christmas letters — and most importantly — parcels with presents.
-- The Associated Press