Snow and ice: How other countries cope

A A A


Berlin



Tony Paterson

With temperatures plummeting to below -30C, even Germany has been struggling to cope with the severe winter weather.

A record low of -33.6C was recorded in an Alpine region of Bavaria at the weekend, but even in flatter, northern areas such as Lower Saxony and the Rhineland, temperatures dropped below -20C. Several places recorded their lowest December temperatures in more than 30 years.

The ice and snow caused multiple accidents on nearly all of the country's motorways. The German automobile association said yesterday that it had received a record 28,654 emergency calls from motorists on Monday night, and rail operator Deutsche Bahn also reported serious delays and cancellations.

But it was Frankfurt airport, Europe's second largest hub after Heathrow, that suffered the most chaos. Snow and frozen runways forced the cancellation of all flights on Monday night. At least 3,000 passengers had to spend the night in the terminals. Yesterday more than 3,000 airport staff were working round the clock to reopen the runways. Berlin's main Tegel airport was also shut down for over an hour yesterday after a sudden thaw brought rain and so-called "blitz ice" or freezing rain.

USA

David Usborne

They were digging out cars in the streets of Manhattan early on Sunday after a 10in blanketing of snow, yet within hours of the last flakes falling all the main roads through the city were so clear that drivers could have been forgiven for thinking the storm had never happened.

It helps that this storm came early in the season and the snow-clearing budgets are still flush. But wherever snow falls regularly in America they are pretty efficient at dealing with it. (A freak flurry in Miami would doubtless cause havoc.)

The worst place to be at the weekend was an East Coast airport: thousands of flights were cancelled by the airlines. Nor did you want to be a shopkeeper. The numbers are not in yet but economists fear that the pre-Christmas storm may have badly dented retail figures at the worst possible time.

It was a record snowfall for some parts of the East Coast, for instance in Washington DC, but all is more or less back to normal now as the Christmas travel rush begins in earnest.

But the folks of the Midwest may not be so lucky. Forecasters predict that parts of the region are about to be swamped with snow and ice beginning later today.

Siberia

Shaun Walker

Even in a country famous for its long, harsh winters, Yakutsk is a byword for meteorological extremes, and is the coldest major settlement in the world. The mercury is set to hover around -33C in the coming days but that is relatively mild – the 250,000 inhabitants regularly have to endure -40C at this time of year.

Six time zones away from Moscow and only properly accessible by plane, all the buildings in the city are built on stilts that burrow deep into the ground, so that warmth from the buildings does not melt the permafrost on which the city balances.

Armies of snow-clearing machines and street sweepers deal with heavy snowfalls, as in all Russian cities. Yet even in the depth of winter, when a surreal bluish haze hangs over the city, schools stay open, buses run and people go about their daily business.

Yakutsk itself sits on the mighty River Lena. There are no bridges, so in winter an ice road is constructed across the river complete with several lanes and road signs.

When I last visited, one newspaper editor told me that during the Cold War, locals would joke that to destroy Yakutsk, there was no need to drop a nuclear bomb on the city. It would be enough just to turn the heating off for a couple of hours.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world