Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowfall, cold shivers Europe

Updated on : Thursday, January 7, 2010

LONDON: Europe shivered in bitterly cold temperatures again Thursday, as Britain braced for more snow that has already caused chaos amid its most brutal winter in decades.

Millions of Britons endured another day of icy conditions and disrupted transport links that have already kept many away from work and knocked Britain's recession-hit economy.

Temperatures overnight dropped to minus 18 degrees Celsius in Woodford outside Manchester, northwest England, and in Benson, southern England. Glasgow saw minus nine degrees Celsius, while London fell to minus three. No major British airports reported closures Thursday, with runways open following a day of disruption Wednesday.

Britain's Met Office weather service said the cold spell was the worst since 1981 and warned of more to come. Much of the rest of Europe was also hit by the winter blast, with freezing temperatures causing treacherous conditions and travel mayhem across the continent.

In France, snow caused traffic problems in Paris, Grenoble Bordeaux and the north. Thirty-one departments, largely in the south, were put on alert for further snowfall and icy conditions. In Austria authorities are on standby amid forecasts of some 50 centimetres of snow at the weekend in low-lying parts of the country, normally spared much of the regular snowfalls in its Alpine areas.

On Thursday, Norway was among the coldest countries, with temperatures ranging from minus 15 degrees Celsius (about minus 42 Fahrenheit) to minus 40 degrees Celsuis. No buses ran in Olso on Thursday as temperatures plunged so low that the petrol froze in the tanks. Ferry services in the capital also came to a standstill. The cold snap also hit train services in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, torrential rain hit parts of Italy and officials feared the swollen River Tiber could threaten Rome in coming days. In Britain, hundreds of schools were closed Thursday, giving children another chance to spend the day playing in the snow.

Fallen trees bringing down lines left about 4,000 homes in southern England without electricity.

Meanwhile police in Manchester, northwest England, caught a fugitive prisoner by following his footprints in the freshly-fallen snow.

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