Air and rail passengers and drivers across Europe are urged to keep checking road, closures, flight and rail schedules and carrier updates “well in advance” of their journeys, after snow storms caused widespread disruption across Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland over the weekend.
While these are countries used to snowy winter weather, and many rejoiced at the start of an early ski season, 44 centimetres (1.5 feet) of snow in Munich is the most December snowfall recorded in the Bavarian state capital since 1933, according to broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Majority of Munich flights still not flying
It may be no surprise then that operations came to a standstill at Munich Airport on Saturday, with over 700 flights grounded and cancelled until 6 am on Sunday. Flights have now resumed in theory, but ongoing “restrictions in air traffic” mean a majority of the planned flights for Sunday have in fact been cancelled, according to news agency dpa, (around 560 out of 880 flights said the airport).
Some flights were diverted but this was amid disruption at other airports including Frankfurt. Zurich Airport in the Swiss capital, and other European airports, also experienced delays and cancellations.
Avoid unnecessary travel
Getting to the airport, or anywhere else for that matter, has proven tricky too. Some German rail passengers spent Saturday night on trains after rail traffic to and from Munich’s central station was halted.
As well as some subway lines and regional trains, Munich’s buses and tram network were also affected, effectively stranding many people or leaving them reliant on rescue by car.
But the roads have not been free from trouble either, with long tailbacks, stranded vehicles and accidents leading authorities to warn people to avoid unnecessary travel. Nearly 100 tailbacks of over 10 kilometers were recorded in Bavaria on Saturday morning alone, ADAC reported.
“Many thousands” without power
Lower Bavarian police, northwest of Munich, told press they had responded to 350 snow and ice related incidents overnight from Friday into Saturday. Some of these related to tree falls. Falling trees and snow have also damaged powerlines, leaving “many thousands” without power, according to utility company, Bayernwerk.
Around 15,000 Czech households were also without power, in a country where shared transport also saw major disruption and cancellations, and roads were blocked for hours.
In Austria and Switzerland meanwhile, it was 50 centimetres (20 inches) of overnight snow that brought avalanche warnings and chaos to the roads and rail networks.
Austrian rail operator OBB cancelled various trains and the west Austrian areas of Tyrol and Vorarlberg saw their avalanche warnings raised to the second-highest alert.