Deteriorating weather in France strands thousands of holiday makers

Snow, ice, and traffic force 15,000 people into emergency overnight accommodation on routes to ski slopes

Drivers park to put on snow chains in the middle of a large traffic congestion in the Savoy region, France. A reported 15,000 drivers were stranded and had to be rescued during the night due to the heavy snowfall hitting the French Alps region. Photograph: Muscio Sylvain/EPA

Drivers park to put on snow chains in the middle of a large traffic congestion in the Savoy region, France. A reported 15,000 drivers were stranded and had to be rescued during the night due to the heavy snowfall hitting the French Alps region. Photograph: Muscio Sylvain/EPA

 

Long queues of vehicles lined routes to French ski slopes for a second day on Sunday after snow, ice and heavy traffic forced some 15,000 people into emergency overnight accommodation during the peak winter holiday season.

Authorities said the weather conditions, not unusual for the time of year but severe enough to make driving hazardous given the number of vehicles on the roads, were set to improve in the afternoon and on Monday.

Snowfalls of 30 to 60 centimetres (12 to 24 inches) over the past 24 hours led them to declare an “orange alert” for snow and ice in four departments of eastern and southeastern France; Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Ain and Isere.

“Getting to the ski stations is still pretty tricky and snow chains are mandatory. The advice is that all those who can should delay their journey,” said the Transport Ministry in a statement.

The ministry of the interior said some of the 83 emergency shelters that received stranded motorists overnight would stay open to help reduce the level of traffic and cater for those not equipped with snow chains.

Agencies