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Posted at 7:54 AM ET, 12/17/2010

Snow hits travel in Europe hard

By Associated Press

Washingtonians may have had problems on the roads after snow moved through the region Thursday, but travelers in Europe are facing widespread problems due to a winter storm.

Heavy overnight snowfall grounded about 450 flights and caused major delays at German airports Friday, forced schools to close, left highways clogged with traffic and caused scores of accidents that killed at least two people.

Snow also hindered flights in the neighboring Netherlands, where Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport saw 30 cancellations and major delays ahead of the busy Christmas holiday season, spokeswoman Mirjam Snoerwang said.

The European control agency Eurocontrol said passengers at Schiphol, one of continental Europe's busiest airports, had to expect delays of up to 4 1/2 hours.
Snow also closed Geneva airport early Thursday morning, though it was open again by midmorning, and flights were also disrupted in Zurich.

In Frankfurt, 300 flights had been canceled by late morning, and the number is expected to rise throughout the day, airport spokesman Timo Ross said. About 8 inches of snow blanketed the state overnight, also causing the closure of schools around Frankfurt and elsewhere in Hesse.

The airport, continental Europe's second-biggest hub, had to be closed for about an hour late Thursday, and an estimated 1,000 passengers were stranded overnight, Ross said.

Munich airport, Germany's second-largest, reported 86 cancellations and major delays; Duesseldorf saw more than 20 cancelations.

Roads were clogged by snow, and in North-Rhine Westphalia state alone authorities reported traffic jams of more than 115 miles on highways, and 251 weather-related accidents that left 19 people injured.

Two men died in a traffic accident in the southern state of Bavaria, according to authorities. The men, 54 and 44 years old, were trying to help a friend to pull his car out of the snow near Straubing late Thursday when they were struck by an oncoming car, police said in a statement.

A wave of snow and icy weather was also causing travel problems across Britain, with trains canceled, schools shut and cars sliding on icy roads.

One motorist in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Kirsty McCullogh, told BBC radio it had taken her five hours to drive 4 miles.

"It's absolutely awful, the roads are sheet ice -- they've not been gritted at all," she said.

Belfast International Airport was closed Friday morning because of snow, and there were delays and cancellations at other airports including Aberdeen, Birmingham and Luton.

In Denmark, the state postal service reported snow in the past weeks has caused a high number of injuries to the country's 12,000 letter carriers -- including broken limbs.

PostDanmark reported 355 carriers have so far been injured since November -- compared with a total of 450 during last year's entire winter, the B.T. newspaper reported.

PostDanmark has acknowledged that the snow may delay Christmas letters -- and most importantly -- parcels with presents.

Check with your airline to see if your travel plans may be affected.

Airlines serving BWI
Airlines serving Dulles
Airlines serving Reagan National

Do you have plans for a European holiday? Are the cancellations affecting your travel? Post a comment below.

By Associated Press  | December 17, 2010; 7:54 AM ET
Categories:  Airports, Aviation, Transportation News  
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