Citizens of Germany prepare for blizzard
German households have been advised to stock up on food, medicines and drinking water as the nation braces for a blizzard that is heading its way. Germany’s Civil Protection Office (BBK) says heavy snowfalls expected on Saturday could trigger local power cuts and severely disrupt public transport. The snow is already more than 30cm (one foot) deep on the isle of Ruegen, off Germany’s Baltic coast, ZDF TV says. In Switzerland, heavy snow has cut the flow of lorries through Alpine tunnels. The busy Gotthard and San Bernardino tunnels were temporarily closed to heavy goods vehicles on Friday, the Swissinfo news website reported.
Gale-force winds and drifting snow are expected to bring traffic to a standstill in many parts of Germany. The German authorities say the situation is exacerbated by shortages of grit for clearing roads. Airports have called in extra staff and rail operators have warned of delays. Households have been advised to keep three or four days’ worth of provisions, including alternative cooking fuel in case of power cuts. Among the essential items listed by the BBK is a battery-powered radio, for checking weather reports.
In the UK, the worst winter for decades has led to a fear for energy supplies as temperatures dropped to -22C (-8F). “What is being forecast for the weekend could lead to chaotic traffic conditions and potentially leave large parts of Germany completely paralysed,” warned the Auto Club Europa. In cities like Duesseldorf, Red Cross workers were setting up heated tents for emergency accommodation as up to 10 homeless people have frozen to death in recent weeks because of the cold weather. In the Netherlands, icebreakers have been deployed to clear shipping routes such as the Twente canal, the harbours of Almelo and Enschede and the Ijsselmeer inland sea. Northern Spain is expecting more heavy snowfalls while the country’s south has been hit by severe floods. France is also braced for more snow. Meteo France warned: “The amount of snow expected is significant, exceptional even”. Parts of France – notably the south-western region of Provence – are without power and suffering transport delays after up to 20cm of snow fell in recent days.