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Snowfall in England May Cost $5 Billion

February 4, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox


CNN reports that London came to a near standstill on Monday with all buses canceled and train services severely disrupted. Analysts said the cost to the economy could be as much as $5 billion. Britain was struggling to return to normal Tuesday, but forecasters predicted icy conditions and a continued freeze for several days to come.

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All of London's airports were open and reported only a small number of cancellations Tuesday as the sun came out and started melting away the snow and ice. British Airways reported that de-icing of planes, not snow, was causing some problems for its flights. Express trains to Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports in London were all running as normal Tuesday, airport operator BAA said.

Monday's snowfall affected a swathe of eastern Britain from north to south, but the worst-affected areas were London and parts of southeast England, Britain's Met Office weather service said. The most snow was reported Monday in Epsom, southwest of London, with 12.2 inches. London received 10.6 inches, the Met office said.

Major roads in central London were largely clear of snow by Tuesday morning and side roads were gradually clearing as well. London's buses, including the red double-deckers, returned to service Tuesday. London transport authorities pulled them from the streets Monday because of safety concerns.

What started as a bleak picture for train travelers had improved greatly by midday. Most of the 11 lines of the Underground subway system, also known as the Tube, were running Tuesday, though two lines were partially suspended, and one, the Circle Line, was not running at all, according to Transport for London. Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain's rail system, said more than three-quarters of the network was open and running Tuesday after weather forced a shutdown on Monday.

The Eurostar high-speed train service between London and Paris reported some disruption to service Tuesday as a result of the heavy snow, but passengers were able to travel on other train services departing near the time of their original tickets, Eurostar said.

No snow was forecast for London on Tuesday. Some wintry showers with possible hail and snow were predicted for northern and western England, Scotland and Wales, the Met Office said.

Photo by Laura Hurley, Surrey, England 



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