Deep freeze snarls transport, stirs ice-skating hopes among locked-down Dutch

Anthony Deutsch
·2-min read

By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Snow from weekend blizzards snarled roads and cancelled flights in the Netherlands on Monday, while also stirring hopes among the locked-down Dutch for a return to ice skating on their canals for the first time in years.

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute extended a warning for snow drifts and slippery conditions to large parts of the country after more than 30 centimetres (nearly 12 inches) fell in 24 hours in some areas.

The train service shut down on Sunday and remained patchy on Monday, while buses and trams continued to have difficulties in many towns and cities.

The post office said it was unable to deliver the mail in some areas because roads were inaccessible due to ice and snow. At Schiphol airport, dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed.

But the disruption was a welcome break for children, who have been in lockdown and out of school for nearly two months.

Elementary schools had been granted permission to reopen on Monday after being closed due to COVID-19, but could not due to severe weather conditions. Temperatures remained well below zero during the day with a chill factor of -18 degrees Celsius (around 0 Fahrenheit).

Across the country, there were winterland scenes of sledding in more snow than many young Dutch children have ever seen.

In the capital Amsterdam, where it was briefly cold enough to skate three years ago, city officials closed the canals for boat traffic to allow for ice formation and residents were un-boxing ice skates for sharpening.

The Netherlands, with its long tradition of ice skating, is home to the century-old "Elfstedentoch", a 200-kilometer (124- mile) race on natural ice past eleven towns and cities. It was last held in 1997.

Icy temperatures are expected to last through the weekend and possibly longer.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; editing by Philippa Fletcher)