Snow, Wind Paralyze European Airports

Snow, Wind Paralyze European Airports

GENEVA (AP) -- Exceptional snow and wind forced airports to close Thursday in Scotland, Switzerland and France and stranded several hundred drivers in their cars as a Siberian cold snap stretched across Europe.

Geneva's airport closed after the Swiss city was hit with 13 centimeters (about five inches) of snow over a three-hour period in the early morning.

The airport's website says passengers should stay away for the time being and check with their airlines to see if their flights are still scheduled. Airport spokesman Sebastien Leprat said that tricky weather conditions across Europe could cause extended delays.

Several deaths have been attributed to the unusually cold late-winter weather across Europe. The fatalities include a man in his 60s who was pronounced dead after being pulled from a frozen lake in London on Wednesday, the city ambulance service said.

Snow shut Glasgow and Edinburgh airports in Scotland, and there are cancellations at Heathrow and other airports in Britain. Airports in the southern French cities of Montpellier and the Atlantic beach resort of Biarritz were also affected.

Hundreds of drivers were trapped in their cars overnight in Scotland and authorities said everyone except emergency-services workers should stay off the roads.

Police in the county of Lincolnshire in eastern England say most roads there are impassable, with as much as two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in rural areas.

Forecasters say a new storm is due to bring blizzards, freezing rain and thunderstorms to Ireland, southwestern England and Wales on Thursday.

About 2,000 cars were blocked on highways in the Herault region of southern France, where snow — and snowplows — are extremely rare.

Snow blanketed Paris and the surrounding region Thursday, and authorities urged Paris commuters to leave their cars at home because of dangerous conditions.

(KA)