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Europe struggles with yet more snow

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Europe struggles with yet more snow

Snow ploughs clear snow from Geneva airport
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Snow storms from Siberia blasted Britain and Ireland on Thursday with the worst weather since 1991, trapping several hundred motorists on roads in Scotland, closing thousands of schools, grounding planes and halting trains.

With up to 90 cm of snow and temperatures as low as minus 10.3 Celsius in Scotland, Britain and Ireland issued their most severe red warnings which advise people to stay at home as travel is too dangerous.

Dozens of people were trapped in their cars on the M80 motorway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, with several hundred having been standed on the road overnight. Flights and trains were cancelled across both Britain and Ireland - with similar transport problems in continental Europe.

More freezing snowy weather was forecast as Storm Emma approaches from Portugal and France, with warnings of treacherous weather across southern England and Ireland.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said people should remain indoors from 1600 GMT on Thursday until the storm, with winds forecast to reach 100 kph (60 mph), has passed.

All flights will cease from Dublin airport by 1600 GMT and the two carriers that use the airport, Aer Lingus and Ryanair, said they do not plan to fly from the airport at all on Friday.

Trains and planes were cancelled across Britain and Ireland.

Emergency services also struggled on what many consider to be the first day of the Northern Hemisphere's Spring.

Wholesale gas prices soared to their highest in at least 10 years on Thursday and the British power network regular, the National Grid, warned of a deficit in the market and sought to buy gas from market players to unblock bottlenecks.

The cold spell, dubbed the "the Beast from the East", has been caused by a jump in temperatures high over the Arctic which has weakened the jet stream that brings warm air in from the Atlantic to Ireland and Britain.

In Switzerland, Geneva airport closed for several hours and dozens of flights were cancelled. Snow also disrupted road and rail traffic.

France had its share of snow too, even on the beaches of the Riviera coast in the southeast.

The worst was in the south where hundreds of cars and trucks were stranded on the A9 motorway, a strip that links southern France and Spain. The airport in Montpelier was closed for a period overnight but partially reopened on Thursday.

Upwards of 15,000 homes along the Mediterranean were without power on Thursday morning, power network company Enedis said.

It also snowed across much of northern Italy overnight, bringing fresh disruption to a rail network already hard hit by heavy snow across the south at the start of the week.

Schools in Florence were ordered to shut, while heavy goods vehicles were banned from the roads in the north.

In the Netherlands, strong winds caused problems. At Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, only two of the six landing strips could be used on Thursday morning. Authorities had to close sea barriers south of Rotterdam to protect shipping.