Tuesday, January 12, 2010

europe struggles with prolonged cold snap

NYTimes | Weeks of wintry weather have left Britons bickering over dwindling salt supplies, Germans worrying over the economic costs of a ferocious start to winter, and residents in the usually warmer corners like Spain and the south of France struggling with rare accumulations of snow.

And everywhere travelers bore the brunt of the cold snap caused by the low-pressure system known as Daisy, which has brought a deep chill to the Continent and disrupted roads, rails and runways.

In Grenoble, France, there was almost a foot of snow on the streets. “The last time it happened was in 1990,” said Frédéric Nathan of the national weather forecaster Météo-France. “Such level of snow in southeast of France is rather rare.”

In Spain, the army was called in to clear roads in crucial areas around Madrid, and 100 smaller roads were closed in the surrounding region.

In southern Poland, more than 100,000 homes were without power on Monday. Also in the country, the train from Katowice to the port city of Gdynia, which was supposed to arrive just after 6 p.m. Sunday, arrived Monday after 11 a.m.

Patience was running particularly thin in Britain, where Met Office, the national weather service, declared last month the coldest December in 14 years, and January brought more of the same. The shortage of salt or “grit” for slippery roads and walkways turned into a political issue, with the government forced to defend itself in the face of criticism from the opposition Conservative Party that it was not prepared for the winter.

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