Page last updated at 21:47 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Airport chaos as icy weather grips Europe


Scenes from across Europe and Asia

The icy weather gripping parts of Europe has disrupted flights at airports in the UK, France, the Irish Republic and the Netherlands.

Many flights were delayed or cancelled at Orly airport in Paris, Dublin airport and Amsterdam-Schiphol, as well as major UK airports.

In Germany, at least nine homeless men aged from 42 to 62 froze to death.

A Eurostar train was stuck for about two hours in the Channel Tunnel on Thursday. It later reached the UK.

Four other Eurostar trains were cancelled, a company spokesman said.

Last month the Eurostar service was suspended for three days after several trains broke down in the tunnel. Powdery snow getting into the engines was identified as the cause.

Widespread delays

Many parts of Germany saw temperatures fall below -10C on Thursday, the Deutsche Welle news website reports.

Grit supplies for clearing snow are running very low in many parts of Germany.

Heavy traffic near Schiphol-Amsterdam airport, 6 Jan 10
Traffic jams around Schiphol airport made road gritting difficult

In the North Rhine-Westphalia region two derailments in as many days have caused havoc with the rail timetable, triggering cancellations and delays.

In the Irish Republic, Dublin airport is open but Knock airport has suspended flights.

All roads into Dublin are extremely icy and hundreds of Irish schools have closed, the Irish Times reports.

Heavy snow caused big traffic jams around Amsterdam and Haarlem on Wednesday evening, Radio Netherlands reports. Few buses were running in the affected areas.

Icy roads have disrupted road freight deliveries to France's Channel ports. Snow is blanketing a large swathe of France, reaching as far south as Bordeaux.

In southern England, some 4,000 people were left without electricity after snow brought down power lines.

The cold snap is also affecting Scandinavian countries.

In Hemavan, in the far north of Sweden, a new winter low of -40.8C (-41.4F) was recorded overnight, Radio Sweden reports.

The Arctic freeze has also seen temperatures in central Sweden plummet to between -30 and -40C - the coldest weather since the mid-1980s.

In Norway, temperatures plummeted to -40C in some areas. The capital Oslo ran a reduced bus service because engine oil had frozen.

In Austria, the authorities are on standby amid forecasts of heavy snow in the coming days in low-lying parts of the country.

The winter death toll in Poland has reached 122 - most of the victims reportedly homeless people.

In Burzyska nad Bugiem, in the east of the country, the army has installed makeshift bridges after flooding and ice split the village in two.

Why the cold weather?

Map showing winds from the north and north east bringing cold weather to northern Europe
The current big chill is a result of high pressure over the polar region, which has pushed cold air out of the Arctic towards much of northern Europe, parts of Asia and the US. Winds from the north and north east, rather than the south and south west, have brought freezing temperatures to the UK.
Map showing the unusually cold temperatures across the UK
Provisional Met Office figures for December show temperatures for much of the UK were 1.5C and 2.5C below the mean temperatures for the last 30 years. Scotland saw temperatures dip still lower - from 2.5C to 3.5C. On Thursday, temperatures in Scotland plunged to -22.3C in places.
Satellite image showing snow across China
Winds from the north also brought cold weather to parts of Asia, with Beijing receiving its heaviest snowfall for nearly 60 years. At the weekend, up to 30cm (12in) of snow fell in China's capital and its neighbouring port city of Tianjin. Dozens of people have also died in a cold snap in northern India.
Map showing how some parts of the world are colder than normal, while others are hotter
However, while parts of the world suffer freezing temperatures, the seesaw patterns mean other areas are warmer than usual, including Alaska, northern Canada and the Mediterranean. Met Office figures for the end of 2009 show some places dropped 10C below the average, while others were 10C above.
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