BERLIN (AFP) - The Arctic freeze gripping Europe left hundreds of people stuck in vehicles in deep snow or stranded at airports with scores of flights cancelled and power cuts to thousands of homes on Sunday.
The treacherous conditions cut off villages in northern Germany and on the Baltic islands, and disrupted rail traffic with Eurostar still only able to run two out of three trains under the English Channel.
The weather, blamed on a rare depression that forecasters labelled Daisy, unleashed blizzards in north Germany that left motorways, other roads and railways impassable at certain points.
Hundreds found themselves stuck in their cars and lorries in snow, or in trains, overnight, authorities said.
The situation is not expected to get any better today.
Throughout Germany accidents continue to happen, with cars and trucks at right angles blocking the roads, Maxi Hartung from the German Automobile Association (ADAC) said.
Daisy dumped even more snow on Germany during Sunday, particularly in the northeast, and forecasters warned of more to come overnight and all day Monday, with heavy snow showers expected to spread southwards.
School was cancelled for Monday in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state, while snowsdrifts up to two metres (six feet) high meant many villages were left to their own devices, police said.
The whole nation was blanketed with snow, whipped up in some places by strong winds.
Leipzig in the east shivered under 29 centimetres of snow and Berlin had 27cm.
Dozens of villages in rural Schleswig-Holstein state and on the Baltic Sea islands were completely cut off, while more than 1,000 car accidents have been reported across Germany in recent days, several of them fatal.
Air travel was hit as well, with 91 flights cancelled since midnight (2300 GMT) at Frankfurt airport, Europes third busiest, after 255 flights were scrapped on Saturday, a spokesman told AFP.
Britain, in the grip of its coldest winter in 30 years, had less fresh snow that feared overnight, but forecasters warned it could be back with a vengeance later Sunday.
After 50 cancellations at London Heathrow on Saturday, more flights were scrapped at British airports on Sunday.
An alert by authorities about gas shortages due to high demand was lifted on Sunday after additional supplies arrived.
At least 26 people have died from the frigid weather, according to British media.
In London, the Serpentine swimming lake in Hyde Park was closed for the first time in about 140 years.
Seven English Premier League football matches were cancelled, as well as all but one Premiership rugby union fixture.
The unusually harsh conditions are caused by a rare combination of relatively warm humid air from the Mediterranean meeting cold air from the north and east, meteorologist Michel Daloz from Meteo France said.
In France, fresh snow and freezing rain made for another day of disruption, with 800 people including 500 British tourists on their way to a skiing break in the French Alps forced to spend the night at Lyon airport.
Around 3,000 homes in southeastern France were without power for a second day, while icy conditions caused numerous accidents on roads around Paris, prompting the closure of motorway sections and a ban on lorries.
In Poland, around 80,000 households were left without power, while freezing rain caused major problems on busy rail links between Warsaw and Cracow.
In the northeast of the Czech Republic, heavy snow forced traffic on the rail line into neighbouring Slovakia to be suspended for six hours, while in the southeast, power outages left thousands in the dark.
In the Balkans, heavy rain and melting snow have meanwhile led to flooding in parts of Croatia and Bosnia, with an emergency declared in the central Croatian district of Lika and 100 homes evacuated.
Thousands of passengers were also stranded at Genevas Cointrin airport after heavy overnight snow kept it closed until noon.
It was the first time we had so much snow on the runway since 1985, airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said on French-language Swiss radio at midday as departures began.
Hundreds of motorists had to abandon their cars in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where a foot of snow fell and the district of Ostvorpommern declared a state of emergency, local authorities said.
Schools across the state will stay closed on Monday.
Levees in parts of the neighboring state of Schleswig-Holstein showed cracks on Sunday, threatening low-lying areas with floods, police said.
Coastal towns like Flensburg and Travemuende had suffered flooding by afternoon.