Europeans stock up as no end to cold snap forecast



BERLIN- Europe endured weekend weather misery with scores of flights cancelled and key highways cut off as snow blanketed much of the continent, and officials urged people to stock up on supplies.
Germany was forecast to receive more snow Sunday after as much as 25 centimetres (10 inches) fell in northern and central Germany on Saturday.
"All of Germany is white," said Tania Dressel of the German weather services.



Europeans stock up as no end to cold snap forecast
Germans were warned to buy enough food and medicines to last for up to four days in the face of a blizzard, and then hunker down at home, avoiding all non-essential travel.
The frigid temperatures claimed more lives on Saturday.
A 60-year-old homeless man was found frozen to death in the northwestern French province of Normandy, authorities said.
The two latest victims of Britain's coldest weather for 30 years were a 42-year-old woman who died after being found lying in the snow in Newcastle, northeast England, and a woman, 90, who froze to death in the garden of her home in Yorkshire.
What is causing the weather havoc in Europe, according to meteorologist Michel Daloz with Meteo France, is a rare combination of factors: a depression over northern Italy bringing relatively warm humid air from the Mediterranean north, where it has met cold air coming from the north and east.
Air traffic around the continent faced major disruptions. More than 220 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt, Europe's third largest airport, spokesman Juergen Harrer said, with scores more delayed.
About a third of flights were delayed at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, before air traffic returned to normal later on Saturday.
But in the eastern city of Lyon about 1,000 people were stranded at the airport after numerous flights were cancelled and several planes in the air headed for alpine destinations were routed there.
The Red Cross set up cots for the stranded passengers as local hotels were full.
London Heathrow airport cancelled 50 short-haul flights and heavy snow led to Dublin Airport closing for four hours, with more than 70 flights either cancelled or delayed.
Traffic was backed up on major links like the A5 highway between Germany and France where police blocked off the border road to trucks for several hours due to heavy snow, German traffic police said.
In France, significant snowfalls caused major delays to train services, and firefighters in northwest Eure region had to rescue overnight some 130 motorists stranded on blocked roadways, officials said.
The Eurostar rail link between Britain and continental Europe said it was operating two-thirds of its trains.
In London, the Serpentine outdoor swimming lake in Hyde Park was closed for the first time in about 140 years amid icy conditions.
The conditions knocked out weekend sports games -- seven English Premier League football matches were called off and five out of the six Premiership rugby union fixtures were also cancelled.
In the Czech Republic, six workers in the central town of Chrast escaped unhurt when a factory roof collapsed under the weight of snow lying on it.
A major highway linking Prague with the western city of Plzen was blocked for several hours on Saturday after accidents.
Power outages were reported in Poland where about 25,000 households were without electricity in the southern region of Kielce and Katowice after power lines snapped when snow-laden branches of trees fell on them.
In Italy, heavy winds and rain toppled trees in the centre of the country and around Rome, leaving some 65,000 people without electricity, civil protection officials said.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown sought to reassure Britons about gas supplies amid record levels of demand caused by a week of sub-zero temperatures and 100 businesses being cut off in order to conserve stocks.
"I can assure you: supplies are not running out," Brown said in his weekly podcast.
Still, for some, the winter freeze led to a call for fun and games.
In the Netherlands, thousands donned their ice skates after the skating federation KNSB gave the green light for impromptu events on three lakes around the country.
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Sunday, January 10th 2010
AFP
           


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