Big freeze en­gulfs Europe– and it’s head­ing for UK

Heavy snow­falls lead to at least 24 deaths and cause chaos across Alpine ar­eas, with three skiers lat­est to die

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - STE­WART ALEXAN­DER

A win­ter storm which has sub­jected main­land Europe to deadly snow­fall is head­ing to­wards the UK.

Heavy snow­fall and rag­ing win­ter con­di­tions have seen peo­ple stranded and cut off in coun­tries such as Ger­many, Czech Repub­lic and Aus­tria.

The mer­cury is ex­pected to slowly fall in Scot­land this week be­fore the freeze sets in dur­ing the sec­ond half of this month.

The Met Of­fice has warned of the first “wide­spread snow” of win­ter with sub­zero Arc­tic air next week bring­ing fierce gales and driv­ing rain.

Met Of­fice fore­caster Ni­cola Maxey said: “It’s mainly this weather we’re see­ing at the mo­ment con­tin­u­ing into the mid­dle of the month.

“Then, as we go through to­wards the end of the month, these con­di­tions be­come a lit­tle bit more change­able with some spells of rain and strong winds, and some of that rain might fall as snow.”

Some fore­casts claim up to six inches of snow could fall in parts of the UK by the end of the month, with many places see­ing at least a cov­er­ing.

The threat was an­nounced as con­ti­nen­tal Europe is ham­mered by re­lent­less snow­storms that have killed up­wards of 20 peo­ple so far and brought dev­as­tat­ing avalanches.

Three Ger­man skiers were killed in an avalanche in Aus­tria – and a fourth is miss­ing, po­lice said yes­ter­day as snow­fall set in again in the north­ern Alps.

The bod­ies of the men – aged 57, 36 and 32 – were re­cov­ered on Satur­day evening near the ski re­sort of Lech, a few hours af­ter the wife of one of the skiers re­ported them miss­ing.

Po­lice in Vo­rarl­berg, Aus­tria’s western-most prov­ince, said they had to call off the search for an­other miss­ing Ger­man skier in the group, age 28, be­cause of heavy snow and the risk of avalanches.

The avalanche brings to at least 24 the num­ber of weather-re­lated deaths re­ported in parts of Europe this month.

Po­lice said the friends had ap­par­ently skied on to a trail that was closed.

Although they had avalanche pro­tec­tion equip­ment and de­ployed airbags, the vic­tims were buried by the avalanche and suf­fered mul­ti­ple in­juries. They were lo­cated with the help of phone track­ing.

On Satur­day, au­thor­i­ties in south­ern Ger­many and Aus­tria used a break in the weather to clear heavy loads of snow from roofs and roads.

But snow set in again on Satur­day night.

In the Bavar­ian town of Kempten, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties closed 11 sports halls as a pre­cau­tion be­cause the weight of snow on their roofs was ex­pected to in­crease, Ger­man me­dia re­ported.

Trains be­tween the Ger­man cities of Mu­nich and Lin­dau, on Lake Con­stance near the Aus­trian bor­der, were trav­el­ling more slowly than usual be­cause of a risk that trees weighed down by snow could fall on to the tracks.

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