Mercury falls in Britian, travel woes continue in Europe

December 3rd, 2010 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 3 (IANS) Britain is expected to remain wrapped up in freeze and fog until the weekend, weather official forecast Friday, as temperatures dropped further, halting air and rail transport across the country and other parts of Europe.

Overnight temperatures plunged to as low as -15 degrees celcius in some parts of Britain, causing more disruptions for motorists and rail and air passengers.

Forecasters have predicted less snow Friday, but there were severe weather warnings about widespread icy roads and a new hazard of freezing fog, according to the Guardian.

Temperatures fell to -15 degrees Celsius in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, -10 degrees Celsius in Glasgow, -7 degrees Celsius in Birmingham and -4 degrees Celsius in London.

Flights were also disrupted in France, the Netherlands and Germany, the BBC reported. In Poland, 18 people have died from exposure to cold over the past two days.

Thousands of railway passengers had to spend the night in trains in Germany as snow paralysed many high-speed inter-city routes.

Gatwick, Britain’s second largest airport, which had been closed for 48 hours resulting in cancellation of 1,400 flights, reopened after round-the-clock operations to clear 150,000 tonnes of snow from the runways and taxiways. But passengers were warned that cancellations and disruption of flights were still inevitable.

However, a slow improvement in conditions is expected over the weekend, when temperatures are expected to climb above freezing point.

“Weather forecasters are predicting freezing fog during most of today, so passengers should expect further disruption, with flights limited and delays and cancellations inevitable,” a spokesman was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“Passengers should also be advised that it is likely to take a few days before flight schedules return to normal.”

Train companies have been warned by Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, to keep passengers better informed of the scale of disruption to services.

There were fears that fuel supplies were running low in rural areas.

Daily Express reported Britain was running out of food Thursday night as the big freeze paralysed the transport network.

Fuel supplies were also at risk after a surge in demand for gas and petrol drained reserves to critically low levels.

Staple foods were fast disappearing from supermarket shelves as shoppers who managed to brave the bad weather sought to stock up on essentials such as bread and milk.

The Independent Petrol Retailers Association said tankers had been unable to leave two major refineries in south Humberside, “cutting the supply chain off at its knees”.

Chairman Brian Madderson was quoted as saying: “We are close to a critical point in what is fast becoming a fuel crisis as well as a weather crisis. Acute problems of supply, particularly of diesel, are being reported by our rural members in the Northeast of England and eastern Scotland.”

Five of Britain’s 19 nuclear reactors were also out of action Thursday because of the bad weather. And the country’s biggest store of natural gas could be empty within weeks if the wintry weather lasts into the New Year, the report said.

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