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Snow and ice keep northern France on alert
Trucks blocked on a road near the town of Rouffigny, north west France. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Snow and ice keep northern France on alert

Dan MacGuill · 13 Mar 2013, 16:00

Published: 13 Mar 2013 08:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Mar 2013 16:00 GMT+01:00

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  • Mayoral candidate for Paris in 2014 Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has criticised the current mayor Bertrand Delanoë for going "absent" while the capital city struggled to deal with the conditions. "When you walked through Paris, you saw very little being done to tackle this state of affairs, despite warnings in place that it was coming," she said.
  • The government, which has been heavily criticised for not doing more to prepare for the storm say they asked Méteo France to reinstate the Orange alert for 19 departments in the north of France on Wednesday.
  • Still almost 60,000 homes without electricity across France including 20,000 in the south west.
  • Buses in Paris are starting to resume services slowly. The city was like a 'huge ice rink' on Wednesday morning after snow turned to ice overnight.
  • The A1 and A13 roads near Charles De Gaulle airport are reportedly blocked on the northbound carriage way.
  • Eurostar announces delays and cancellations of certain trains for Wednesday and Thursday - Passengers on the Eurostar faced more disruption on Wednesday after several trains were cancelled due to the icy conditions in northern France. The cross channel train service had resumed Wednesday morning after being suspended because of heavy snow on Tuesday. But with several trains being cancelled and others delayed Eurostar has told passengers not to turn up at a station unless their train is definitely running.
  • French Prime Minister says difficult  48 hours ahead - French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault says a difficult 48 hours lie ahead and has asked residents in northern France to be cautious. After holding an emergency meeting of the ministerial crisis group Ayrault insisted "everything was under control" and that "the organisation was at the necessary level". "Things should improve by Friday," he added.

The national weather service Méteo France kept 19 departments throughout Normandy, Ile-de-France, Picardie and in Nord-Pas-de-Calais on 'orange alert' on Wednesday- the second highest level of weather warning.

Heavy Snow and icy roads in these regions meant driving conditions were particularly treacherous.

The snowfall that blanketed the north of France on Tuesday moved south and east overnight, dissipating as it went, but the real menace on Wednesday morning was the icy temperatures, with the mercury dropping overnight to between -10 and -13 °C in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, and between -3 and -8° C in Normandy and around Paris.

The big overnight freeze has turned snow covered roads into ice rinks and authorities were warning on Wednesday morning that meant roads and pathways had become dangerously slippery.

Motorists are advised that the RN 13 (‘route nationale’) is off-limits between Caen and Cherbourg, and is likely to remain so for the rest of the day.

Eurostar resumes services

SNCF said the cross-Channel Eurostar service to London and the Thalys service to Brussels had resumed around 0700 am (0600 GMT). Eurostar has announced an “amended timetable”, and warned travellers to expect journey times of between 40 and 60 minutes longer than usual.

High-speed train links were also restored between Paris and regional centres like Amien, Rouen and Caen, though TGV rail services have been limited to 170 km per hour in certain sections of the north, with passengers being advised to expect journeys extended by 20 or 30 minutes.

"SNCF put up more than 1,000 customers in hotel rooms near stations and in train sleeping carriages that were made available," the rail authority said in
a statement.

"For 24 hours, 10,000 employees have been working to remove snow from the rail lines and re-establish service," it added.

The train services were suspended when a severe late-winter snowstorm battered northwestern Europe on Tuesday, causing widespread travel chaos with the cancellation of hundreds of flights at main airports.

Story continues below…

Blizzard-like conditions - coming only eight days before the official start of spring - also knocked out power to thousands of people in France and left motorists stranded in their cars.

France was the worst affected but Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands also reported major disruptions.

Paris Beauvais airport, which serves all Ryanair passengers into and out of the French capital, was closed on Wednesday, along with Lille-Lesquin.

Flights have returned to normal at Paris Orly and Roissy (Charles de Gaulles) airports.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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