Britain in deep freeze

February 6th, 2012 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 6 (IANS) Britain is under the spell of snow, ice and freezing temperatures and the prevailing condition may last through February.

On Tuesday, people in parts of Britain woke up to lying snow of up to five inches while the coldest temperature of -8.6C was recorded overnight in north Yorkshire, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Forecasters have warned the biting temperatures, snow showers and overnight frosts could last until the February end as the country returned to work amid expected school closures, the report added.

The first big freeze of the winter led to cancelled flights at Heathrow and treacherous conditions on the roads.

Heathrow airport, one of the world’s busiest international airports, faced enquiries Monday night as to why half of its flights had been cancelled hours after it stopped snowing.

BAA, the Spanish-owned airport operator, had to bear the passengers’ wrath after 600 flights were grounded at Heathrow despite just three inches of snowfall, disrupting the plans of as many as 18,000 travellers.

On Tuesday morning, the airport was operating its normal flight schedule.

As per the meteorological office, the rest of the week would remain cold for most parts of the country.

“Most of England and Wales will be staying relatively settled but cold. The biggest risk is hard overnight frost and freezing fog,” said Steven Keates, Met Office forecaster.

“It looks as if this cold snap will last two or three weeks and this weather system looks as though it will erode from the west in the second half of February.”

This disruption, however, was in contrast to other airports across Europe where flights took off normally despite record low temperatures.

In Germany, no airport had to shut even though Munich city saw temperatures plunging to -27C.

In Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden, only six of 350 flights were cancelled. Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, had four inches of snow but no disruption.

In contrast, BAA had already cancelled, by Saturday afternoon, a third of flights nine hours before any snow had fallen in a pre-emptive plan to avoid the chaos of previous winters.

Even as the snow began to melt from 6 a.m. Sunday, over half of flights remained grounded.

Those flying in from Moscow voiced their surprise on being stranded, despite flying out from Russia in -20C snow storms.

The number of planes stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow meant incoming flights were forced to divert elsewhere.

In Ireland, hundreds of passengers were last night stranded as six flights were sent to Shannon airport. British Airways was badly affected. Its two thirds of flights between were cancelled.

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