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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Snow trouble in Europe - trucks stranded; planes off schedule

In India, it is popularly believed that there will be no snow after ‘Shivrathri’….. in mid March, in Chennai we have started feeling the oppressive heat, apprehending another severe summer.  Europe is far different – most parts of Europe is experiencing severe winter and snow storms.  There are reports of a major winter snowstorm snarling flights and trains across Europe, creating chaos for thousands of travellers.   Snow-choked European cities are struggling to get planes, trains and roads moving again after a surprisingly intense, late-season storm.

In Budapest, Hungary, there are reports of thousands of people being forced to spend the night in their cars or roadside buildings after being stranded by  snowstorm.  Reports suggest that wind gusts of up to 100 kph and trucks jackknifed across the M1 highway between Budapest and Vienna led to the traffic jams. Dozens of major roads across the country were blocked by the snowfall, and the storm also left more than 100,000 people without electricity. The weather conditions also led the government and several opposition parties to cancel outdoor festivities and events planned on Friday's national holiday commemorating Hungary's 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs.

Snowstorms are storms where large amounts of snow fall. Snow is less dense than liquid water, by a factor of approximately 10 at temperatures slightly below freezing, and even more at much colder temperatures. Two inches (5 cm) of snow is enough to create serious disruptions to traffic and  transport.

The A1 Autoroute, also known as l'autoroute du Nord (the Northern Motorway), is the busiest of France's autoroutes. With a length of 211 km (131 mi), it connects Paris with the northern city of Lille. There are reports that trucks bound for Paris remain at a standstill on the A1 highway near Henin-Beaumont, northern France, after police barred trucks from travelling on roads until midday in the Paris region after the heaviest snowfall in almost 25 years. Reports on Tuesday say over 68,000 homes were without electricity in France, which was mostly affected. Some 800 others were trapped inside their cars. Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest hub, was reportedly closed while train services between London and Paris were also suspended.

It is not isolated to France or Hungary as unusually heavy snowstorms have caused severe travel disruptions across northern Europe, with the Eurostar high-speed train between London and the continent suspended and hundreds of flights cancelled. There is also chaos on the roads. Airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa cancelled about 700 flights of a daily total of 1,200 as the airport was only partially reopened in the afternoon.  In France, a Tunisair plane slid off the runway on landing at Orly airport, forcing the closure of a runway at Paris's second hub while 140 passengers were evacuated.

In Belgium, the breakdown assistance association Touring said the total length of tailbacks on highways and major roads at their rush-hour peak hit 1,670 km, easily beating the previous record of 1,285 km set on February 3 last year.

Snow and ice  reportedly have contributed to several accidents but no matter--the snow is beautiful, is what European still say !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
Photos courtesy :


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