Netherlands goes 'code red' amid devastating snowstorms
The Netherlands and parts of Germany were blanketed on Sunday by a snowstorm that disrupted planes and trains and put some coronavirus testing on hold.
Britain was also bracing for heavy snow from what Dutch meteorologists have called Storm Darcy, which is packing winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.
People rushed outdoors to enjoy sledging and playing in the snow in Dutch and German cities despite the bitterly cold conditions with temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius.
But Dutch authorities declared a rare “code red” emergency for the entire country as it was hit by its first proper snowstorm in more than a decade.
Weather forecasting website Weer.nl said that overnight a force-eight wind was measured in combination with snowfall, adding: “This officially means a snowstorm in our country.”
“It is the first snowstorm in a long time: the last snowstorm took place in January 2010.”
Dozens of flights were delayed or canceled at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport while Eindhoven airport in the south of the country scrapped all services.
All trains were canceled in the Netherlands, including international services to Germany. Trams were halted in Amsterdam, while a tram derailed in the snow in The Hague.
Motorists were advised to avoid traveling and more than 80 cars were reported to have skidded off the road.
Most parts of the country had between five and 10 centimeters of snow but some areas received 30 centimeters, public broadcaster NOS said.
The conditions were so severe that the Dutch government had closed all coronavirus testing centers for several days.
Up to 10 days of sub-zero daytime temperatures are expected in the Netherlands, raising hopes in the skating-obsessed country that canals will freeze over.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said ice skating will be allowed if the canals freeze for the first time since 2018, but warned Dutch people to observe social distancing and to try not to fall over and end up in already overstretched hospitals.
In Germany, snowfall caused major disruption to trains and cancellations of services between cities.
Heavier snow of up to 40 centimeters was expected in parts of northern Germany overnight.
Belgium, which also neighbors the Netherlands, received a light dusting of snow but was expecting a big temperature drop as the week progresses.