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 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 15:40 GMT
UK hit by 'Arctic blast'
Gale force winds and high seas turn the waves pounding Whitby harbour into a whipped cream texture
Gales give the sea a cream-like texture in Whitby
Biting Arctic gales are blowing heavy hail, snow and sleet showers across the UK - and the worst is yet to come.

The stormy weather has already killed four people across Britain and Ireland.

And temperatures are expected to plummet.

By the Thursday morning rush-hour, routes around the country could be affected as a band of settling snow spreads from the north and east, according to the BBC Weather Centre.

In Whitby roads were up to a foot deep in foam after freezing temperatures, strong winds and huge waves combined to give sea spray a whipped cream-like texture.

Fire crews

Forecaster Helen Young said a combination of record levels of high pressure in the mid-Atlantic and low pressure in Scandinavia was causing an icy "Arctic blast".

snow
Snow is expected to cause travel problems
It is blowing the severe weather across the UK from Iceland and Greenland.

Parts of the country are already being battered by 70mph (112.6km/h) winds

A man died when a tree fell crushed his black and yellow Vauxhall convertible car in Barnet, north London, on Tuesday.

Army fire crews using Green Goddesses and red engines freed the driver from the vehicle.

But he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Sea deaths

Two men died and one was seriously injured on board a tanker travelling in bad weather off the west coast of Ireland.

Coastguards said two officers - believed to be Argentines - were securing equipment on board the Panamanian-registered Princess Eva just before 1300 GMT when they were "washed across the deck".

Their tanker was travelling from Denmark to Houston, Texas.

One of the men died immediately and the other died later of severe head injuries.

Another man lost his leg in the accident and was being taken to hospital in Galway for emergency treatment.

Dangerous conditions

Meanwhile a 28-year-old fisherman died at sea about 40 miles north-west of the Butt of Lewis, in Scotland.

Alisdair Watson, of Macduff, died after a wave knocked him over while he was lifting equipment on the Venture II vessel.

Dangerous conditions stopped a Stornoway Coastguard helicopter from airlifting him from the vessel, following a call just before 0100 GMT on Tuesday.

Many roads in Scotland remain closed.

And ferry services across the Irish Sea have been halted.

See also:

15 Jan 03 | Scotland
09 Jan 03 | UK
09 Jan 03 | England
08 Jan 03 | England
07 Jan 03 | England
03 Nov 02 | Scotland
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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