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Fresh snow shuts down British airports, trains

Floods and heavy snow hit Venice and Milan
Rome (AFP) Dec 1, 2010 - Heavy snowfalls hit Milan and the Lombardy region of northern Italy on Wednesday while Venice's city centre was flooded as "acqua alta" (high water) levels continued to rise. Snowfalls disrupted traffic in city centres and on motorways in Lombardy and Piedmont in the north of the country, while in Emilia-Romagna the Civil Protection Agency issued a bad weather warning until Wednesday evening. The Italian Motorways Association said the 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) of highways affected were currently open to traffic despite the snow. Tourists in Venice wrestled with the problems posed by floodwaters as water levels hit 111 centimetres (43.7 inches) according to the municipal Tide Centre. In Rome, the Tiber river was forecast to surpass the 11 metre and 30 centimetres warning mark later in the day on Wednesday as heavy rains continue to lash the capital.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Dec 1, 2010
Britain's transport links with the rest of the world were disrupted by the early winter snowfall as key airports closed Wednesday and international Eurostar train services were cut.

London Gatwick Airport, Europe's eighth busiest passenger air hub, was closed until at least 6:00 am (0600 GMT) Thursday as staff worked on clearing the two runways.

Amid the earliest widespread snowfall of a British winter since 1993, Edinburgh Airport, Scotland's busiest, was shut again due to heavy snow showers overnight, while London City Airport had cancellations and delays.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick said they had about six inches (15 centimetres) of snow to clear.

"We brought in extra people to try to clear the runway. We had a vast army of people. But as fast as they were clearing the snow, the quicker it settled again," she said.

Eurostar, which operates high-speed passenger trains linking London with Paris and Brussels, said precautionary speed restrictions would result in delays, with the knock-on effect that some services would be cancelled.

Two trains between London and Brussels and four between London and Paris were scrapped, with further cancellations planned for Thursday.

Across the country, train services between major cities like Liverpool and Sheffield were unable to run, while commuter services into London were also facing severe disruption.

Key trunk roads nationwide were also blocked. On the M25, the London orbital motorway, the eastern bridge over the River Thames was shut, while sections of the route were also blocked.

There were severe delays on the M1 and A1 main routes linking London with the north.

In Scotland, the Forth Road Bridge connecting Edinburgh with the north was closed.

An overnight low of minus 19.8 degrees Celsius (minus 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded in Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands, with temperatures expected to remain below freezing across Scotland on Wednesday.

The joint lowest temperature ever recorded in Britain -- minus 27.2C (minus 17F) -- was set at Altnaharra.

Hundreds of schools across Britain remained closed.

Forecasters warned that the weather would not improve until Friday, with more snow to come over the weekend.

Between four and six inches (10 and 15 centimetres) of snow was predicted to fall in higher areas.

Insurer RSA estimated that the bad weather could cost the British economy up to 1.2 billion pounds (1.9 billion dollars, 2.3 billion euros) a day, with retailers and the restaurant and bar industries likely to be the worst affected.

RSA director David Greaves said: "Bad weather in the run-up to Christmas will have a major impact on the UK's economy and could lead to significant losses for already struggling businesses."

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Heavy snow hits airports and roads across Europe
London (AFP) Nov 30, 2010
Snow and freezing temperatures severely disrupted airports in Germany and Britain and caused chaos and deaths on roads across Europe on Tuesday. More than 200 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt airport in Germany, the continent's third busiest, while southern German states were blanketed by snow. Large parts of Poland were covered in thick snow, causing hundreds of accidents on the road ... read more

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