Severe weather hits Europe


Severe winter weather is causing travel disruptions across Europe today with heavy snowfalls leading to airport closures and train cancellations.

Heavy snow has grounded all flights at Gatwick airport in London until tomorrow, while the worst early winter weather in almost two decades has caused severe delays on roads and rail lines up and down Britain.

In Scotland, Edinburgh airport was closed because of heavy snow showers. London's smaller City airport said its runway was operating, but some flights had been cancelled.

Police in the southern countries of Kent and Surrey advised motorists not to travel unless their journey was absolutely essential, with severe delays reported on the M25 London orbital motorway which passes through the counties.

Eurostar rail services between London and continental Europe were suffering delays of up to 30 minutes and six scheduled services were cancelled.

Britain, which last year shivered through its coldest winter in 30 years, has not seen such widespread early snowfall since 1993. There was no immediate sign of a thaw, with further snow forecast today in eastern Scotland and eastern, central and southern England.

In Germany, the use of a runway at Frankfurt airport was impeded because of strong tailwinds and some flights were cancelled. Roads are also frozen over across the country and temperatures in Berlin slumped to minus 10 degrees.

Deutsche Bahn, Europe's largest train operator, said some of its long-distance and regional trains were cancelled or delayed today because of snowfall and snow being blown onto tracks.

Geneva airport in Switzerland closed last night and will not reopen until this afternoon at the earliest. "We've had an incredible quantity of snow and it's still falling," said Geneva airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli.

In France, Lyon Saint-Exupery airport was closed to arrivals this morning as incoming flights with diverted to Marseille because of low visibility.

Runway de-icing teams were on standby for a renewed onslaught of bad weather, according to the airport's website.

Paris's Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are still operating normally.

Reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg