With Europe in the grip of one of the severest winters in years authorities across the continent are waging a battle against the elements.In Spain 11 provinces in the north of the country are on high alert with forecasts of more snow to come. Some main roads leading into France remain blocked. Conditions are no better north of the border. Hundreds of people are reported to have been stranded in Alpine regions in the east of France. Officials have warned of a heightened risk of avalanche in some laces. Elsewhere in the country there are other weather worries with flooding caused by melting snow. In Italy emergency crews are struggling to keep roads open in the north of the country. Here too, there are concerns about more snow triggering avalanches. As in France flooding is causing problems in other parts of the country. Britain is having one of its harshest winters in decades. A number of major roads are still closed because of the risk of falling ice. In the English county of Gloucestershire one council had to resort to using table salt to grit roads when normal supplies ran out.