Snow: travel chaos continues

20th December 2010, by Chris Gill

Snowbound Heathrow

Snowbound Heathrow

The weather continues to make the news headlines all over the country, none more so than the southern airports – and travellers desperate to get away to the Alps for Christmas.

Hundreds more flights have been cancelled at Heathrow on Monday morning, leaving passengers stranded despite no overnight snowfall. In the West, the snow is falling heavily again, with warnings for up to 20cm.

Back in Somerset after a week in France’s Three Valleys, I realise that I was one of the lucky ones. On Friday, poor wintry weather closed Geneva airport for a time while we were playing in the fresh powder at Les Menuires. Snowfall there was glorious and much-needed after a week without. But, in fact, the cold temperatures meant heavier snowfall lower down in the valleys, so driving back to the airport was, at times, treacherous.

The mountain road to Les Menuires was witness to lots of cars without winter tyres, their owners struggling to fit chains. It was the start of the French school holidays and plenty of people were heading for the slopes. Train travel was also affected: two of our group were stuck on a static train between Lyon and Paris for some time.

Friday’s snowfall in France

In Geneva, the departures board was worryingly red – the earlier Easyjet flight cancelled and no information on our departure. We waited, and waited some more. Eventually the news was good: our flight was on it’s way from the UK and we would be going home that evening. But it was touch and go. The UK was braced for more snowfall, and Gatwick wasn’t the end of my journey. I’m not sure how I got through a foot of snow on uncleared roads, without winter tyres or chains, but was back home by 5:30am.

Lots of skiers and boarders were heading out to the Alps this weekend; sadly, many facing severe travel disruption along the way. London’s Gatwick airport, thankfully, is now open on Monday and clearing the backlog of delayed or cancelled flights.

And the good news is decent piste conditions to greet arrivals for the run-up to Christmas. Resorts are delighted with the early season snowfalls. While we were in France, Austria was also enjoying terrific snow conditions. We received reports from Innsbruck, where the extreme weather has also delivered lots of fresh snow to the region – but also extreme temperatures and high winds.

Unpisted slope in Somerset!

Back to news

Recent news

Share |