It's not just the UK – the Continent is suffering too

John Lichfield
Monday 20 December 2010 01:00 GMT

Airports were closed, motorists were stranded, football matches were cancelled, politicians were blamed.... Britain? Yes, but the picture was the same in almost every other European country.

In Germany, hundreds of travellers were trapped at Frankfurt airport overnight. Almost 500 flights were cancelled as blizzards set in, and despite an emergency law last month ordering all motorists to buy winter tyres, accidents caused immense tailbacks on autobahns on Friday and Saturday.

In France, 40 per cent of flights were cancelled at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports. Most remaining flights were delayed. Over 20,000 passengers were stranded at Charles de Gaulle alone.

Even the Eiffel Tower was forced to close because large falls of snow had accumulated on the steel-work and on the lifts. A concert by the American pop-singer Lady Gaga at the Palais Omnisports in Paris was cancelled because equipment trucks broke a government ban on heavy transport on motorways.

Even in Scandinavia, often held up as an example of how to cope with winter, many trains were cancelled and roads blocked by drifting snow and ice after temperatures fell to -20C.

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