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Snow ties up European planes, trains, roads

PARIS — Frankfurt’s airport closed, trains stopped running under the English Channel, and the French army was ordered to help clear roads — all because of a sudden dump of oddly late snowfall on Western Europe.

Less prepared for the kind of heavy snow that regularly hits northern and eastern neighbors, France, Germany, Britain, and Belgium struggled Tuesday to keep moving amid the frosty, blustery conditions.

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Instead of enjoying the onset of spring, travelers shivered in stranded cars, packed onto icy train platforms, or languished in airport waiting halls. Thousands of schoolchildren stayed home. Tens of thousands of homes were without electricity.

Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third busiest, closed at midday after recording about 5 inches of snow. More than 355 flights had been canceled by midafternoon.

The airport reopened one of its four runways only for takeoffs after a brief respite in the snowfall — but the snow then resumed.

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