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Flights from UK's Heathrow hit by cold snap

posted 4 Feb 2012, 16:11 by Mpelembe   [ updated 4 Feb 2012, 16:12 ]

Heavy snow blankets Britain, grounding grounds planes and and raises fears of transport chaos.

UNITED KINGDOM (FEBRUARY 4, 2012) (ITN) - Snow showers swept the United Kingdom (U.K.) on Saturday (February 4) as the first widespread big freeze of the winter threatened to cripple much of the country.

Britain shivered through the coldest night of the winter so far with temperatures plunging to minus 12.4 degrees Centigrade overnight and forecasters predicting up to 15 centimetres (6 inches) of snow.

Flurries fell over Scotland, northern England and the Midlands in the afternoon and hit London in the evening.

Temperatures were also not expected to climb above -2 Celsius, leading to icy conditions.

London's Heathrow Airport said it would operate a much reduced service on Sunday with snow and freezing temperatures predicted to hit much of England over the weekend.

An official at London's Heathrow Airport said the early decision to cancel flights would help minimise the disruption for air travellers using the busy airport. "Heathrow is an airport that runs at capacity, there is no slack in the system. If we get delays caused by bad weather the delays build up very, very quickly," he explained.

As a result, just 70 percent of normal services will operate from London's Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, operator BAA said in a statement on Saturday.

On the roads, motorists faced severe conditions as snow gritting vehicles set out on missions to keep roads free of ice.