Sabine Conrad plays with her French sheepdog El Lobo in front of the snow-covered rooftops of Erfurt, central Germany, on Jan. 17.
Slideshow: Winter's frozen splendor
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Residents rest under an uprooted tree used as temporary shelter in New Bataan, Compostela province on December 12, 2012 nearly one week after the southern part of the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Bopha. The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has climbed above 900 with hundreds more missing, many of them tuna fishermen feared lost at sea, the government said on December 11. Read the full story.
Erik De Castro / Reuters
A man looks for his relatives from lists of missing persons more than one week after Typhoon Bopha hit New Bataan, southern Philippines December 12, 2012.
Erik De Castro / Reuters
A girl and other typhoon victims search for recyclable materials from among the debris at the ruins of a house in the coastal town of Cateel, that was devastated during last Tuesday's Typhoon Bopha in Davao Oriental, southern Philippines on Wednesday.
Thailand's worst flooding in half a century has inundated a third of the country. NBC's Ian Williams reports.
Bangkok on Thursday is rather like a slow motion disaster movie. But the bickering cast can't quite agree on how its going to end. They keep putting up the end titles, only to follow with another, grimmer, scene.
There's no continuity. If I were in a cinema, I'd walk right out.
In just a few days, the authorities have shifted from incredible complacency to near hysteria. A week ago, Bangkok was going to be spared. Crisis over. Now we are told that the flood waters are unstoppable, that a massive wall of water is bearing down on us, and all the city is facing inundation.
The message from the government Thursday was, in effect, brace yourself or get out of town. They've declared a five day holiday to help people cope.
It hasn't helped that the city and national governments are from rival political camps, and at times have seemed more intent on tripping each other up than facing up to the floods.
Many people who can have left town, but it has been surprisingly orderly given the latest warnings. There has been panic buying, clearing the shelves of basic items like bottled drinking water, but for the most part the people of Bangkok remain remarkably calm. Worried, yes, but there's certainly no panic.
Evacuating from Sai Mai district, North Bangkok, on Thursday
Even evacuations, one of which we witnesses today in the northern suburb of Sai Mai, have been largely good humored.
One reason, perhaps, is that few Thais trust their politicians, and many simply are not yet convinced the flood will reach them. In Sai Mai today, many residents were resisting calls to evacuate. I spoke to one family of nine, still living in a house swamped by three feet of water.
"We don't want to leave our possessions," one of the women told me. "It will have to get much worse before we leave."
Those who leave are staying with friends or in a growing string of evacuation centers.
Reinforcing the flood defenses while geese watch Thursday at Sai Mai.
As of Thursday, most of central Bangkok remains dry, though sandbags are everywhere. It's very quiet.
This low-lying city is no stranger to flooding. My road is regularly swamped in the rainy season after a heavy downpour. Flash flooding is a fact of life, but Thailand has seen nothing like this for half a century.
A Thai friend of mine this morning shrugged when I asked him about his preparations. He's regularly been flooded -- and in traditional Thai houses that's kind of what the ground floor is for. Nobody in their right mind would keep anything valuable down there.
The bloated Chao Phraya river on Thursday.
What worried him most was how long the water stays. Flash flooding drains away quite quickly, but the government's warning that the water descending on Bangkok could stick around for weeks.
Which brings me back to that disaster movie analogy. The floods started in July and have submerged a good chunk of central Thailand (a flood plain that's been heavily and mindlessly developed in recent years - but that's another story), and killed more than 370 people at the last count.
The water seeps, it doesn't surge. It been moving slowly but relentlessly, and is now picking off Bangkok suburb by suburb.
The alarm for the next three days has been triggered by a combination of massive run-off from the central plains and high tides in the Gulf of Thailand and the Chao Praya, the bloated river of kings that runs through this city. Today in Chinatown, a particularly vulnerable part of the city, close to the Royal Palace, water was lapping right at the top to the sand-bag barrier now holding it back. It has already been breached in some places.
Six in the evening local time Saturday will see a record tide, we are being warned -- D-day for Bangkok. Or maybe not. Hold those end titles.
Watching the rising waters of the Chao Phraya river on Thursday.
Nigel Roddis / Reuters
Vehicles travel through snow on the A168 road near Topcliffe, northern England on Dec. 1. Heavy snow grounded all flights at Gatwick airport on Wednesday, while the worst early winter weather in almost two decades also caused severe delays on roads and rail lines up and down Britain.
ANDREW WINNING / Reuters
A traveller shelters from the snow as he waits for a train at Clapham Junction in south London on Dec. 2.
By Nina Saada, NBC News London
LONDON – Name three things that begin with the letter ‘S’ and can each bring central London to a standstill: snow, subway strikes and students.
Roll all of those together and what do you get? A good description of Londoners' miserable week so far: record-breaking snowfall in U.K.’s capital, yet another strike by subway workers and another student demonstration.
And to top it all off, Londoners’ daydreams of hosting the 2018 World Cup have just been crushed – they lost their bid to Russia!
The white stuff has forced London's Gatwick Airport to close until Friday, train services to grind to a halt and schools and businesses to shut their doors, and caused traffic pile-ups have trapped people in their cars for hours.
Luke Macgregor / Reuters
Passengers wait in front of check-in desks at Gatwick Airport in southern England on Dec. 2.
As temperatures drop to around 24 degrees Fahrenheit in and around London and as much as six inches fall in some parts of the capital’s suburbs, millions are settling in for the big freeze.
Given the tales of transport chaos I had heard, I felt lucky to squeeze onto a packed train as it pulled away from the platform at London’s Paddington Station.
The young lady sat opposite me hadn't been so lucky.
"I've been travelling for seven hours on a journey that should only haven taken me three, and I still have two more hours to go," said Bristol University student Bea Bishop.
Despite her mammoth journey, 22-year-old Bishop was just pleased to be getting back to campus in time for her morning class. Apparently she wasn’t one of the thousands of students who boycotted class and took to the streets earlier in the week.
While most people have been trying their best to keep warm and stay out of the cold, thousands of students have been standing outside holding placards and challenging the freezing weather, the government and the police force this week.
Despite the frigid weather, protesters turned out for their third mass demonstration against the government’s plans to triple university tuitions to $14,000 Wednesday. Call it youthful imperviousness to cold.
Luke MacGregor / Reuters
Demonstrators march through the snow during protests about student fees in London on Nov. 30.
Lee Griffiths, a student dancer, had been training hard in the studio all day – only to get stuck in the middle of an angry protest at Kingston University on the outskirts of London.
“Hundreds of people were marching in front of my bus. Things looked like they were getting out of hand and there were police everywhere. My bus was stuck behind the protest march so it took me nearly an hour rather than 20 minutes to get home,” she said.
The 21-year-old has not felt the urge to join in with the protest.
“This is my second year of university so these changes don’t really affect me, but as far as I can see the radicals are ruining it for those who want to protest peacefully,” she said. “I don’t want to be involved in that.”
With the snow bringing travel to a standstill and student demos upsetting the balance, the city’s frosty air has a tinge of chaotic misery. Throw in another tube, or subway, strike and you’ll understand why.
Luke Macgregor / Reuters
Traffic lines up around the M25 in Kent as snow causes travel chaos in southern England on Dec. 1.
Hundreds of thousands of Londoners started work late on Monday. For those who did make it in on time, their usual mode of transport was doubly as crowded or the commute doubly as long. On Monday staff on the underground tube transport network went on strike for the fourth time since August.
Thousands of London Underground maintenance workers, drivers and ticket hall staff had walked out in a dispute over job cuts and safety. The 24-hour industrial action forced the closure of 50 tube stations and caused widespread disruption across the city. Commuters had to either force their way onto packed buses, trains and boats, or face freezing temperatures and walk to work.
Social networking sites were as busy as London bus stops, with people voicing their complaints about the disruptions on Twitter.
“Harrymarr” tweeted that thanks to the Tube strike he had “resorted to sleeping in the office – what has my life come to?” And “Chrishealeynz,” quipped “with #Tubestrike yesterday & the #snow today, the City of London is like the set of #28dayslater.”
And getting to work won’t get much easier if the subway unions have anything to do with it: Tube workers are threatening more action, possibly for three days in a row next time and possibly over the Christmas period.
Oh yeah, students are vowing that they're determined to demonstrate until the government rethinks the rise in fees.
Unfortunately for Londoners, their only hope is that the snow is due to stop falling soon.