March 3, 2018 / 10:33 AM / 4 months ago

Ireland, Britain grind slowly back to normal following snowstorms

DUBLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - Airports reopened and public transport began to grind back into service on Saturday after the worst snowstorms in nearly 30 years caused two days of major disruption in Britain and shut most of Ireland.

Council workers begin to clear snow besides the canal in Birmingham, Britain March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

A blast of Siberian cold dubbed “the Beast from the East” combined with Storm Emma’s arrival from the south to ground planes, shut schools and in Ireland, knock out the entire public transport network with weather rarely seen in either country.

Flood warnings were issued on Saturday due to the melting snow, which in Scotland had led to snow drifts up to 10 feet (three metres) deep, according to ScotRail. While Ireland’s most severe weather warning was lifted, the government urged caution.

“Driving conditions remain treacherous due to ice and snow on the ground. We’re working hard to reopen roads and resume public transport. Please continue to take extreme care,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned the public on Twitter.

Ireland’s main airports reopened, although over 50 flights in Dublin, mainly operated by Ryanair and IAG’s Aer Lingus, had already been cancelled before snow and ice teams worked through the night to clear the airfield.

Eight men aged between 24 and 47 were due in court in Dublin on burglary charges after police said they caused substantial damage to a supermarket operated by German discount store Lidl late on Friday.

Canal boats remain moored in the frozen canal in Birmingham, Britain March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Several Irish media outlets reported that the supermarket had been looted. State broadcaster RTE showed video footage from social media of a mechanical digger pulling down part of the wall in the blizzard. Reuters was unable to verify the video.

Public transport across Ireland was due to reopen with a limited service from 1200 GMT, while train operators were running half a schedule in Scotland, which initially bore the brunt of the Siberian cold front.

According to forecasters, Scotland was expected to see more snow on Saturday while they warned that flooding and icy roads could disrupt travel across the rest of Britain.

Major roads in northern England and the south west have been badly hit by snow, trapping passengers in their vehicles for hours on end, while some trains have been stranded on tracks with hundreds of people on board.

Slideshow (2 Images)

One photograph that circulated widely on social media showed a man asleep in a carriage rack of a stationary train.

As temperatures started to recover, the country’s biggest airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, appeared to be operating a normal service while Manchester and Edinburgh reported fewer cancellations and delays to flights.   

Additional reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary in Edinburgh

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