Snow and ice still clogging highways and grounding planes in Germany | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 17.12.2010
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Snow and ice still clogging highways and grounding planes in Germany

Planes, trains and automobiles have been facing hefty delays across Germany due to poor weather. Hundreds of road traffic accidents and grounded airplanes have made life difficult for people and police alike.

A motorcycllist struggles with fresh snow on a city street

Fresh snow on top, ice underneath - not exactly motorcycling paradise

Heavy snowfall across much of Germany has caused widespread traffic jams and hundreds of accidents on the roads, as well as severely interrupting air and rail travel.

The blizzard "Petra" has largely abated but the German Weather Service, the DWD, is still issuing mild weather warnings nationwide, describing the overall situation on its website as "extremely wintery across the board."

Meanwhile, authorities are scrambling to clear Thursday's heavy snowfall from the country's highways, runways and railways.

Airport backlogs

Germany's largest airport, in Frankfurt, was operating "entirely without disruptions" early on Friday, according to a spokesman for the hub. Nevertheless, roughly 100 flights have been cancelled, partly because of problems at other European airports, and also as a knock-on effect from the airport's brief closure on Thursday night.

A major traffic jam caused by snowfall

The going has been unusually slow on the fast-moving Autobahns

Stuttgart airport, where snow was still falling heavily on Friday morning, reported delays caused by the intermittent closure of runways in order to clear away fresh snow. Several other airports were still battling to minimize delays on Friday, and the German Red Cross has been taking camp beds, sleeping bags and blankets to German terminals, anticipating more stranded passengers.

Almost 200 kilometers of traffic jams

The greatest disruptions hit Germany's road network, especially the highways. Thousands of road traffic accidents were recorded by German police on Thursday, mostly caused by the adverse weather; three people lost their lives in the crashes.

The motorway network came close to gridlock during the worst of the snowfall, with authorities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone recording a total of 185 kilometers (115 miles) of traffic jams at one point late on Thursday evening. One single queue, on the A3 highway near Leverkusen, stretched back 40 kilometers.

Parts of the country even banned heavy goods vehicles from taking to the highways overnight, after several got bogged down in the snow; but that ban has since been lifted.

Although the situation is now clearing, police have asked all road users to plan plenty of extra time for their journeys, and to adapt their driving style to suit the conditions.

Meanwhile, the German rail service, Deutsche Bahn - also facing numerous weather-related delays and cancellations - has opened up a free customer service phone hotline for timetable inquiries.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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