LONDON • Millions of Britons woke up to a blanket of snow yesterday as a severe winter storm swept the country, bringing howling winds. Wales and central England bore the brunt of the cold snap, which also hit parts of France.
A separate storm was due to lash Portugal and Spain yesterday before hitting Britain and France today.
In Britain, the authorities issued an amber weather warning across large parts of the country.
Up to 28cm of snow had been recorded by the Met Office across high ground in Wales, one of the worst affected regions, the BBC said. More heavy snow was expected ahead of the next storm.
Warnings were also extended for snow and high winds of 130kmh were a possibility in the south of England. Flights, trains and road travel were expected to be disrupted for most of yesterday, with some runways blocked, the BBC said.
The snow and ice created dangerous driving conditions. But for some children, it gave them a chance to enjoy an early white Christmas with snow fights and sledding in the chilly conditions.
In the British Midlands, many motorways were covered in snow, with local police forces advising people to travel only if necessary, the BBC said. Birmingham, Stansted and Luton airports reported flight disruptions because of heavy snow on the runways.
At the French port of Calais, a ferry with more than 300 passengers on board ran aground in stormy weather. No injuries were reported, a local official and the shipping company told Agence France-Presse.
"The vessel is stable. Port officers are looking at how to refloat it," an official in the local administration said, without giving his name.
Across the Atlantic, New York received the season's first snowfall, giving the city in the United States a light dusting that brought people out to play in Central Park and embellished the festive feeling at Rockefeller Center, where a Christmas tree and an ice-skating rink have been set up.