Heavy snow storm snarls traffic in Austria, France

A storm that dumped heavy snow across much of Europe on Wednesday created headaches for commuters, causing trucks to jackknife in Austria and stranding hundreds of motorists overnight in northern France. Scores of travelers spent the night in community centers and hotels near the northeastern French city of Nancy, where road crews worked through the night to clear up to 30 centimeters, or about a foot, of snow. On Wednesday, France closed its border with Italy because of heavy snowfall, authorities said.

Only about half as much snow fell on the Vienna region, but it was enough to knock out power to at least 300 homes and cause treacherous road conditions blamed for dozens of crashes, including one that forced medics to use a helicopter to airlift two injured women to a hospital.

Police were working to clear Austria's key east-west A1 highway of wreckage from a 10-car pileup in which one person was injured, and authorities said at least 11 trucks jackknifed in the province of Lower Austria, making many roadways impassible.

In Britain, freezing rain pelted morning rush-hour commuters in some areas, and the icy conditions prompted officials to close roads and cancel train service across a wide swath of Kent and eastern England. Temperatures plunged to a nationwide low of minus 8.2 Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) at Benson in Oxfordshire on Tuesday night, meteorologists said, and their forecasts called for the mercury to drop even further.

The Eurotunnel's Channel Tunnel services, which were briefly suspended Tuesday night, were running normally Wednesday, with slight delays for freight shuttles on the French side, officials said, reports the AP. I.L.

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