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Heavy Snowfall Disrupts Travel in England

February 2, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox


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CNN is reporting that heavy snowfall, the worst in 18 years, has forced the cancellation of more than 650 flights at London's Heathrow airport and shut down London's bus network, partially paralyzing the city.

The BBC reports that the snow caused a Cyprus Airways flight to slip off a taxiway at Heathrow and land in grass. Passengers were unharmed in the incident, which took place at about 8:20 a.m. GMT, airport operator BAA said. The authority added it was the last flight to land before the runways were closed. British Airways said it has canceled all its flights until 5:00 p.m. GMT.

Heathrow, one of the busiest transport hubs in the world, closed both its runways for more than two hours Monday morning and operated with just one for the rest of the morning, according to BAA, the company that runs it.

London City airport is also closed, while the British capital's other two airports, Stansted and Gatwick, were operating with severe delays, BAA said. British Airways canceled all flights out of Heathrow until 5 p.m. except for Edinburgh and Lisbon routes. Southampton Airport, southwest of London, was also closed.

Southeastern Trains have suspended all services until further notice, and there is no service on Gatwick Express. Southern and First Great Western are running reduced services. Eurostar services from London are currently operating but are subject to possible delays.

On the roads, the southern section of the M25 has treacherous driving conditions between the M23 and the A3. The A2 is shut into London at Lewisham Road in Blackheath because of snow with many other roads across London extremely slippery.

CNN says that Britain's national weather service, the Met Office, issued severe weather warnings for all of England and much of Scotland and Wales for both Monday and Tuesday.

Heavy drifting snow was forecast for much of the country Monday, with southeastern England, including London, to be the hardest hit. Up to 6 inches of snow were expected in London during the day Monday, but several inches had already fallen overnight.

Tuesday's forecast is expected to bring some relief, with the snow expected to stop and temperatures to rise above freezing. The BBC says that nighttime temperatures across London could drop to -3C as a blast of cold air sweeps in from the North Sea.



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