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European Travel Still Chaotic, Snowy

Thousands of people are still stuck in European airports, as Wright previously reported. Here's a tweet from Eurocontrol, the air traffic control agency:

RT @heathrowairport: It is very important not to turn up to Heathrow hoping for a flight. You must confirm first.

And here are Eurocontrol's FB updates:

"The situation this morning is somewhat better than yesterday.

  • Frankfurt airport (EDDF) is still experiencing significant delays and cancellations.
  • London Heathrow is operating with a very low rate and only for operators who have obtained prior permission from the airport authorisatiohn. Delays are up to 6 hours and cancellations are significant.
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are regulated but delays are relatively small.
  • Capacity issues in Madrid airspace is causing delays to flights to/from Madrid.
  • Brussels Zaventem is operating but it is currently unclear how long the de-icing fluid will last.

"One of the major challenges of today was to be able to accept north Atlantic flights coming to Europe. This seems to have been successful."

From the BBC: airport officials in Frankfurt "brought in four brightly coloured clowns late on Monday to try and lift the mood in the terminals."

A clown entertains stranded travelers at the Frankfurt airport on December 19, 2010. i i

A clown entertains stranded travelers at the Frankfurt airport. BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images
A clown entertains stranded travelers at the Frankfurt airport on December 19, 2010.

A clown entertains stranded travelers at the Frankfurt airport.

BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images

MOVE OVER EL NINO - IT'S THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS

This charming name is really a weather pattern, responsible for the deluge of rain and snow engulfing parts of California.  Courtesy of the Weather Notebook, via the Mt. Washington Observatory:

The Pineapple Express runs straight from Hawaii to the shores of Washington, Oregon, and California but it doesn't arrive every day. It only runs a few times each winter, when the jet stream settles into a long, straight, fast flow across the eastern Pacific. This allows huge amounts of tropical air to cruise northeast from near Hawaii toward the West Coast.

The Weather Channel describes it as a 'firehose of moisture' headed inland toward Arizona and even Colorado.

TOYOTA TO PAY $32.4 MILLION IN NEW FINES

The automaker accepted two new penalties, settling an investigation into its handling of two safety recalls. One recall involved gas pedals that got stuck in floor mats, forcing cars to accelerate. The second was over steering rods that could break, leaving motorists in out-of-control vehicles. These fines punish Toyota for failing to notify the U.S. government of the defects. USA Today cites Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who says he expects Toyota 'to work cooperatively in the future to ensure consumers' safety'. Toyota is already paying fines worth more than $16 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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