Snow Smothers Plans in Europe

BY Larisa Epatko  December 20, 2010 at 2:54 PM EDT

An early onslaught of snowy weather in northern Europe has closed airports, stranded motorists and canceled Lady Gaga’s concert plans (once again) in Paris.

For the third day Monday, freezing temperatures, ice and snow grounded flights, disrupting hundreds of thousands of travelers’ holiday plans, and closed stores during what is normally one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year.

Sweden is experiencing the coldest winter weather for this early in the season since the mid-1800s, and reported dozens of related traffic accidents, according to the Associated Press.

More than 1,000 flights in Germany were canceled after getting about 16 inches of freshly fallen snow.

Long waits also met passengers hoping to use Eurostar rail services linking England to France and Belgium.

Major delays at Paris’ two main airports caused many passengers to spend the night at the airport since hotels were full.

And at London’s Heathrow Airport, passengers suffering the same fate got creative with their waiting time.

The Guardian predicts this December might go into the record books if temperatures fail to warm up by Christmas.

See more international stories on our World page and follow us on Twitter.