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London hit by heaviest snow in 18 years

A robin hides from the snow

Story by Jack Foley

LONDON was hit by the heaviest snowfall in 18 years between Sunday night and Monday morning (February 1 and 2, 2009). But while much has been written about how it brought much of the capital to a standstill, people still took the opportunity to enjoy the day off it provided many.

Check out our photos of snowy landscapes in Richmond, as well as snowmen taking a break, birds searching for food, and thrill-seekers playing on Richmond Hill… View photos

According to the BBC, some parts of London saw up to 8 inches (20 cm) of snow, with more expected to follow in the next 48 hours.

The snow did have a more serious side, however, bringing widespread travel chaos as Londoners attempted to get to work and keep the country moving.

Heathrow Airport was forced to cancel all its flights and close both runways until 5pm (GMT) on February 2, and a Cyprus Airways plane also slipped off a taxiway due to icy conditions. None of its passenger were harmed.

About 270 flights were cancelled at Stansted Airport in Essex and 95 at Luton Airport in Bedfordshire.

On the trains, South West Trains ran a severely reduced service, with delays of up to four hours on those that did run, and many lines suspended altogether. They advised people against travelling where possible.

Many Tube lines were also partially suspended, with the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines entirely suspended.

In an unprecedented move, all London buses were also withdrawn from service due “to adverse weather and dangerous driving conditions”.

And London Mayor Boris Johnson suspended London’s congestion charge for the day, with motorists who had already paid due to be refunded.

Thousands of school children across England and Wales also had a day off from school, with most Surrey schools closed.

And hospitals in London put out emergency calls to staff to come into work because of a big increase in 999 calls, with many non-urgent operations being cancelled and ambulance response slowed.

In the West End, meanwhile, the majority of London’s theatres were forced to cancel performances due to the adverse conditions.

It is estimated that one in five workers took a snow day, while the cost to industry has been tentatively put at £3 billion. With further bad weather anticipated for the remainder of the week, including blizzards, sleet and severe ice, the cost to the capital is expected to rise.

View photos of London’s snow day or Bushy Park in the snow

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