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Nasty weather wreaks havoc in Europe

By AFP - Dec 11,2017 - Last updated at Dec 11,2017

A couple observes giant waves crashing on a seaside promenade in the northern Spanish Basque city of San Sebastian on Monday (AFP photo)

BRUSSELS — High winds and heavy snow in Europe on Monday stranded thousands of travellers, kept schoolchildren at home and even played havoc with international diplomacy.

It was the second day running of nasty weather across the continent, with Britain still digging out from its deepest snowfall in four years.

The snowed-over runways in Brussels on Monday provoked about 90 flight cancellations and some 100 delays, including for the plane carrying Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back home.

He tweeted a video from his plane that opened with a shot of the white tarmac at the close of his European visit marked by the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

A scheduled meeting between Netanyahu and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had to be called off because of the weather, officials said.

Brussels airport advised passengers to stay away, as staff were trying to de-ice planes and clear snow from the runways.

“Heavy snowfall: do not come to the airport until further notice,” the airport said on Twitter, adding that passengers should check the status of their flights.

Schiphol airport, just outside Amsterdam, was forced to cancel 430 flights already by early afternoon — about a third of all flights in or out of one of Europe’s top five busiest air hubs — while many others faced long delays.

Eindhoven airport, the Netherlands’ second biggest, said just after midday that “due to wintry weather conditions, the runway is currently closed”.

But it was not just knee-high snow that was causing trouble, with winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour forecast along France’s Atlantic Coast.

Some 120,000 people were without power in France as storms that caused a ferry to run aground in Calais on Sunday continued to sweep the centre and west of the country. 

Brutal winds shut down ferry service between the southern Spanish port of Algeciras and Tangiers in Morocco, while also shuttering some schools in southern Spain. 

 

Hundreds of schools closed

 

At the same time, Britain was recovering after heavy snow brought freezing temperatures, shutting hundreds of schools and disrupting flights for a second day.

Power was restored to more than 100,000 homes, while airports tried to recover their schedules following the winter’s first major snowfall — the biggest in four years.

The last time Britain saw this much heavy snow nationwide was in March 2013.

Newspaper front pages were filled with pictures of people either enjoying the snow or stuck in gridlock on the roads.

Some 32 centimetres of snow fell in Sennybridge in south Wales on Sunday.

Temperatures overnight dropped to minus 11.6 degrees Celsius in Northumberland, northeast England.

The Western Power Distribution network said it has restored power to more than 99,500 customers, while a further 7,000 were still without electricity, largely in west central England.

Meanwhile disruption continued on the roads and at airports.

London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport by passenger numbers, said it was still experiencing problems.

“Some flights at Heathrow will be disrupted on Monday due to crew and aircraft being out of position following yesterday’s weather,” it said.

“We’re working with our airline partners to return aircraft to where they need to be, and full service recovery remains the focus.”

Hundreds of schools were closed in western England and north Wales, while much of the kingdom was on a yellow weather warning for snow and ice.

 

All local authority-run schools in the central city of Birmingham were also shut.

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