Unprecedented breakdown of channel tunnel trains due to exceptionally cold weather
Another sign of global cooling
MORE than 2000 passengers spent a chilly and hungry night stranded in the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain after cold weather caused five trains to break down. The trains failed as they moved from the freezing air of northern France into the warmer temperatures of the tunnel on Friday evening, operator Eurostar said. All Eurostar services were suspended until today.
Some passengers complained they were left to fend for themselves when the trains were halted under the English Channel during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Lee Godfrey, who was travelling back to London from Disneyland Paris with his family, said: "We were without power. We ran out of water, we ran out of food and there was very very poor communication from the staff. "We lost air-conditioning when we lost the power. We had to open the emergency doors ourselves.
Eurostar said all the passengers had been evacuated from the affected trains, which were all travelling from France to Britain. It said the cold weather had forced the suspension of services until Sunday, adding to the chaos for travellers trying to reach their families for Christmas. "We have not had a situation like this in 15 years," Eurostar executive Nicolas Petrovic said.
The problems with the Eurostar trains added to an already difficult situation on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year in Europe as temperatures dropped as low as minus seven degrees Celsius.
Blizzard blasts United States, one of the worst in a decade
Another sign of global cooling
A deadly storm described as one of the worst in a decade blanketed much of the eastern United States overnight, grounding flights and bringing traffic to a standstill on the last weekend of the holiday shopping season. In the bullseye of the historic storm, the cities of Baltimore and Washington - in a snow emergency - were on track to topple December snowfall records, with about 30 to 60 centimetres forecast by dawn this morning. That would eclipse Washington's 30 centimetre December record set in 1932, and Baltimore's record 35.8cm from December 1960.
President Barack Obama, attending a heated UN summit in Copenhagen where world leaders struggled to hash out a plan to battle global warming, raced home to avoid the worst of the storm that hammered the East Coast two days before the official beginning of winter.
After snow ploughs cleared the runway at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington for the presidential jet, Obama stepped off Air Force One and into a heavy snowfall shortly after 1am (5pm AEDT). In a rare move he was whisked to the White House by motorcade rather than his traditional Marine 1 helicopter due to the treacherous weather....
"This is a very serious storm," said Maryland Emergency Management chief Richard Muth. "The next 12-to-15 hours are going to be very hazardous," Muth added, warning people not to drive unless in an emergency. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine earlier declared a state of emergency, urging people to stay home, while Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley followed suit.
Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty declared a snow emergency.
NYT edits out cold weather
In a perfect end to a perfect global warming conference, Barack Obama has left Copenhagen “in order to return to Washington before a major snowstorm hits.” It might be only the 12th white Christmas for Washington in weather-recording history. The beauty of this moment was too much for the New York Times, which initially reported, accurately enough: "Aides said he left to get to Washington ahead of a major snowstorm headed toward the capital".
But that piece has since been re-written, omitting a certain word: "Mr. Obama, who left before the conference considered the accord because of a major storm descending on Washington …"
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