The Latest: Winter storm halts all flights in Dublin
GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the wintry weather hitting Europe (all times local):
Winter weather is halting all flights in and out of Dublin Airport, with authorities saying they are unlikely to resume until Saturday.
The airport says Aer Lingus, Ryanair and other carriers are suspending operations Thursday afternoon as Ireland braces for a fierce storm. It says airlines “are likely to resume operations on Saturday morning.”
Irish Rail also says no trains are likely to run until Saturday.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has urged people to get home by 4 p.m. Thursday and stay home until the storm has passed. He says the forecast predicts blizzards, 100 kph (60 mph) winds, zero visibility and deep pockets of snow.
Varadkar says “the risk to life and limb presented by severe weather conditions should not be underestimated.”
The World Health Organization says the cold weather hitting Europe poses health risks, particularly to people in vulnerable situations.
The agency’s European head, Zsuzsanna Jakab, says the cold, even when not at its peak, “can be harmful to people’s health in many ways.”
Jakab says it “can aggravate existing conditions and raise the risk of increased blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.”
She said that “frequently, poor households are the hardest hit” because low income people “can least afford to adequately heat their homes. Homeless people, and refugees and migrants can be especially vulnerable. Their risk increases if they lack proper clothing, food and medical care.”
Officials say Geneva’s airport has reopened after teams scrambled to de-ice planes, tarmacs and other facilities that had led to a several-hour shutdown following sudden snowfall overnight.
The officials warned of continued delays, however, after 13 centimeters (about 5 inches) of snow landed in the early morning hours, and advised passengers to check with their airlines.
Geneva airport director Andre Schneider pointed to a combination of a string of very-cold days that hardened the ground and a slight melting of the snow, which then froze and iced up airport facilities, runways and tarmacs.
He said the real problem was a lack of friction on the ground to allow planes to move around, land or take off.
“When there is ice underneath, we actually need to get rid of the ice,” he said.
“That’s actually quite complicated, because we can either use special equipment which blows hot air on it, or use chemicals. But it’s not as quick as just pushing off the snow.”
Macedonia’s government has urged employers to exempt pregnant women and people aged over 60 from work for a day due to the freezing conditions.
The lowest temperature in Macedonia on Thursday was minus 18 Celsius (-0.4 Fahrenheit) recorded near the border with Bulgaria.
A government agency also issued a recommendation for construction companies to reduce working hours, secure heated areas for outdoor workers and allow them half-hour breaks every two hours.
No deaths have been reported so far in Macedonia due to the cold.
The national meteorological agency said the cold is expected to ease during the weekend.
A woman, who had left her home at a Swedish asylum center with her daughter and son, aged 8 and 9, respectively, has been pronounced dead after being found in a southern Sweden forest.
The Aftonbladet daily newspaper said the woman who died Thursday in hospital was “poorly dressed” and that her daughter was in intensive care but not in a life-threatening condition.
The son was found safe and sound Wednesday afternoon.
Temperatures in the region were about -10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).
Aftonbladet said a helicopter search had been called off Wednesday because of poor visibility.
Danish police say that an 84-year-old woman with dementia has become the second person to die in Denmark because of the cold weather.
Police say she left her home Wednesday evening and was found Thursday in a park in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen. The woman wasn’t identified in line with Danish practice.
Southern Denmark has been hit by heavy snowfall and local police have urged motorists not to use their cars.
In neighboring Sweden, the Transport Administration said people should think twice before taking their cars in areas affected by heavy snowfall and snowdrifts, adding “it is difficult to predict which areas will get the most snow.”
Sweden’s emergency service said it had received about 550 calls regarding minor road crashes as of Thursday morning in the past three days, twice as much as for an ordinary winter day.
Braving an Arctic blast sweeping across Europe, about two dozen officials from the Paris region have spent a frigid night outdoors to call attention to the plight of the homeless.
Snow began falling before they closed their eyes early Thursday near the Austerlitz train station. The city was blanketed in white by daybreak.
Dragging blankets and sleeping bags, numerous officials, from an array of political parties, wore their blue, white and red sashes, France’s national colors, denoting their status.
At least 13 homeless have died in the Paris region since Jan. 1.
Mama Sy, deputy mayor of Etampes, south of Paris, and organizer, said that “it’s out of the question” that the 6,000 places opened for the homeless because of frigid weather disappear when temperatures rise.
--This item has been corrected to show that the deputy mayor’s surname is Sy, not Si.
Roads and airports across large chunks of Britain are closed as snow and wind wreak havoc with travel plans.
Hundreds of drivers were trapped in their cars overnight in Scotland, where authorities said everyone except emergency-services workers should stay off the roads. The snow shut Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, and there are cancellations at Heathrow and other airports in England.
Police in the county of Lincolnshire in eastern England say most roads there are impassable, with as much as 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow in rural areas.
Several people have died across Europe as the continent endures unusually cold late-winter weather. The fatalities include a man in his 60s who was pronounced dead after being pulled from a frozen lake in London on Wednesday, the ambulance service said.
Forecasters say a new storm is due to bring blizzards, freezing rain and thunderstorms to Ireland, southwestern England and Wales on Thursday.
Unusual snow in parts of France has disrupted flights, stranded drivers on highways and caused school closures.
The state meteorological agency put about half the country on alert Thursday for dangerous levels of snow, ice, floods or strong winds.
Snow blanketed Paris and the surrounding region, and authorities urged Paris commuters to leave their cars at home because of dangerous conditions.
The snowfall stretched across a swath of northern France and also reached as far south as Montpellier near the Mediterranean. Airports in Montpellier and the Atlantic beach resort of Biarritz were among those seeing disruptions because of the snow.
Television broadcast images of people trapped in their cars on snow-covered highways in the area, where snow is extremely rare.
Geneva’s airport has been closed “until further notice” after the Swiss city was blanketed by snowfall overnight.
The airport’s website says passengers should stay away for the time being and recommends they check with their airlines to see if their flights are still scheduled for departure.
Airport spokesman Sebastien Leprat said initial targets to re-open around 9 a.m. (0800GMT) had been pushed back by one hour, and that no formal decision had been made to resume traffic.
He said tricky weather conditions across Europe could cause extended delays.
Meteorologist Dominique Stussi of national weather service MeteoSuisse said 13 centimeters (about 5 inches) fell over a three-hour period in the early morning.