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Cold and snow delay travelers across Europe

LONDON — Blizzards and freezing temperatures shut down runways, train tracks and highways across Europe on Saturday, disrupting flights and leaving shivering drivers stranded on roadsides.

Airports in Britain, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark reported cancellations or delays to flights.

London's Gatwick airport reopened late afternoon after 150 employees using dozens of plows worked to clear the runway of 4 inches of snow, though officials warned flights would be limited and cancellations likely.

Heathrow Airport will remain shut until today after snow and ice forced the closure of runways, according to a statement on its website.

Conditions on British roads were treacherous, Automobile Association official Darron Burness said. "One of the biggest problems is that large amounts of snow are falling very quickly on to frozen surfaces, making driving hazardous," he said.

Hundreds of motorists were left stranded on a major road in northwestern England following a deluge, prompting police patrols to offer food and water to drivers.

In Italy, the Autostrada of the Sun — the country's main north-south highway — was jammed with hundreds of vehicles, whose chilly occupants slept in their cars, vans or trucks. Though snow had mainly cleared or melted early Saturday, the highway was still closed in one direction, with traffic backed up for nearly 25 miles.

The snowfall also forced high-speed trains to bypass Florence's central Santa Maria Novella station, stopping in suburban stations instead.

Paris was sprinkled with a light coat of snow overnight, as many people prepared to set off on their Christmas vacations. More snow was predicted Saturday, leading civil aviation authorities to cancel flights at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Significant numbers of domestic and European flights were canceled at Germany's Frankfurt airport as it dealt with the disruption. Germany's railway operator Deutsche Bahn said it was pressing into service all the trains it could — though some journeys were subject to delays.

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