Skip to main content

Wintry weather disrupts European travel for a second day

By Laura Smith-Spark. Alexander Felton and Stephanie Halasz, CNN
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Wed March 13, 2013
Cars covered in snow in northern France on Wednesday following a heavy snowstorm.
Cars covered in snow in northern France on Wednesday following a heavy snowstorm.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Disruption to Eurostar trains will continue into Thursday, the operator says
  • NEW: French authorities had to find shelter for 2,000 stranded motorists overnight
  • NEW: Heavy snowfall Wednesday morning delayed travelers in Moscow
  • "We are working very hard to relieve the situation," says French interior minister

(CNN) -- Travelers are getting back on the move Wednesday, a day after heavy snowfall caused cancellations and delays across much of northern Europe.

Eurostar, the high-speed passenger rail service that connects London, Paris, Brussels and other cities, resumed a limited schedule on Wednesday.

Journey times will be about two hours longer than usual on the trains that are running, the company said.

"Disruption on the high-speed line continues, and we anticipate speed restrictions remaining in place throughout the day," a statement on its website said.

Eurostar has urged passengers not to travel Wednesday unless their journey is essential, saying they can request an exchange or refund.

Eurostar services on Thursday will also be affected by continuing freezing conditions, the company said. Eight trains are already canceled, while others may take up to an hour longer than usual to reach their destination.

Almost all Eurostar services were canceled Tuesday because of snow, ice and high winds, affecting around 10,000 passengers.

French train operator SNCF said it had put up more than 1,000 customers in hotel rooms near train stations overnight and had made sleeper cabins available on some trains.

Motorists in northern France have also been badly affected by the snow and black ice, including many in the capital, Paris.

"The situation is particularly difficult at the moment with so many trucks stuck on the road, we must respect that this is the information we have and it is not easy," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls told BFM-TV.

"We are working very hard to relieve the situation and to help the people who are currently stuck."

Some 2,000 stranded motorists had to be given shelter overnight, an Interior Ministry statement said. Emergency workers have given food and drink to others who chose to stay in their vehicles.

Nearly 34,700 homes in northern France were without electricity on Wednesday, down from 80,000 as of Tuesday evening, the ministry said.

Flights backlog

All four runways are in operation Wednesday at Germany's Frankfurt Airport -- a major European hub -- but about 100 flights will be canceled over the course of the day.

The situation is easing but the backlog of canceled flights has to be reduced, spokesman Dieter Hulick told CNN.

A rainbow appears in the skies above a Hong Kong office building on Wednesday, August 7. Click through to see other images of weather around the world. A rainbow appears in the skies above a Hong Kong office building on Wednesday, August 7. Click through to see other images of weather around the world.
Photos: Weather around the world
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Weather around the world Photos: Weather around the world

The airport canceled 800 of a total 1,238 flights on Tuesday as it grappled with heavy, drifting snow that closed all four runways for several hours.

Cots were put up in the airport overnight for stranded passengers, Hulick said.

Travel was also disrupted by heavy snowfall in Moscow on Wednesday morning, with some flights delayed and roads gridlocked.

Worse weather is forecast for the Russian capital in the coming days.

Gusting wind

Late-winter blasts like these are nothing new for central Europe, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.

In fact, Germany refers to it as Marzwinter, or "March winter," Miller said. The phenomenon occurs in mid-March when, after a period of spring-like warmth early in the month that often coaxes trees and flowers to begin to bloom, cold northerly winds bring mid-winter type weather back to the country.

True to form, last week there were seven consecutive days of above-average temperatures in Frankfurt.

The mercury peaked Saturday with a high of 17 degrees Celsius (about 62 degrees Fahrenheit), the kind of temperature usually expected in mid-May. On Tuesday, however, winter returned with a vengeance, dropping 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) of snow on the city by noon.

In addition to the snow, winds have gusted to 50 and 60 kph (31 to 37 mph), creating whiteout conditions and making travel even more difficult.

Northern France took the brunt of the storm, with some locations seeing up to 40 centimeters (nearly 16 inches) of snow. Gusty winds have created snow drifts a meter deep or more in places.

CNN's Alla Eshchenko contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 8:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT