Page last updated at 23:25 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009
UK prepares for freezing weekend



The worst snowfalls to affect Britain in 18 years have led to school and road closures, disrupted rail services and seen hundreds of flights cancelled. Here was the picture across the UK as of 2325 GMT on Monday.

LONDON
Trafalgar Square, 2 February 2009

London's transport network has been severely disrupted.

All London buses were withdrawn from service on Monday morning because of adverse weather and dangerous driving conditions. Around 100 bus routes predominantly running into and out of central London are now running.

  • On the Underground, services are currently operating on more than 80% of the network.
  • Southeastern Trains, Southern and First Great Western are running reduced services. Eurostar is running to the Continent, but with disruption within the UK.
  • Mayor Boris Johnson announced the 8 London congestion charge was to be suspended for Monday as a "gesture of appreciation for those who have travelled to work".

Courts including the Old Bailey, Southwark Crown Court and Isleworth Crown Court did not sit.

WEATHER AND TRAVEL LINKS


Schools in many London boroughs have been affected by the snow.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said the "vast majority" of schools in London had shut on Monday, with indications they would remain closed on Tuesday.

Harrow Council said it had used up 25% of its annual allocation of gritting salt - some 250 tonnes - in 24 hours.

London Ambulance Service said it was under "severe pressure", had been taking more calls than usual and was dealing with only life-threatening emergencies.

EAST ANGLIA

Flights from Luton in Bedfordshire have been suspended due to snow on the runways.

Ingatestone, Essex
Children toboggan in a field in Ingatestone, Essex, after heavy overnight snowfall

In Essex, Stansted's runway was initially closed but reopened later. Flights have been subject to significant delays and cancellations.

First Capital Connect said trains into London from Peterborough, King's Lynn, Cambridge and Stevenage were disrupted.

Suffolk County Council closed 180 schools for the day, in Essex 475 were shut, while 131 closed in Norfolk and 180 across Buckinghamshire.

SOUTH AND SOUTH EAST

At Southampton Airport, in Hampshire, in-bound and out-bound flights were cancelled in the morning, although the runway reopened shortly before 1200 GMT. Passengers were advised to check in as normal.

Bristol International Airport remained open but four incoming flights had to be diverted to other regional airports when snow covered the runway at 1330 GMT.

Across south-eastern England, more than 1,500 schools closed. All Surrey's 403 state schools were expected to remain shut on Tuesday.

Southsea, Hampshire
A couple walk along the snow covered beach at Southsea, Hampshire

Winchester, Basingstoke, Farnborough, Aldershot, Yateley and the surrounding areas were the worst affected by the weather, with Marwell Zoological Park, near Winchester, closed for the day.

South East Coast Ambulance Service reported delays in answering 999 calls but said it had drafted in extra 4x4 vehicles from voluntary organisations such as St John Ambulance to help.

A 59-year-old lorry driver was killed when his truck hit a car and struck a central reservation while travelling towards Oxford on the A420 on Monday afternoon.

Hampshire police had recorded 163 road traffic collisions in the first 12 hours of Monday.

Heavy snowfall caused major disruption on roads in Kent.

The M25 was closed clockwise between Reigate and Leatherhead, junctions 8 and 9, and there were reports of several vehicles becoming stuck in the snow.

At least 74 schools were closed in Dorset, but despite the snow 25 dedicated children carried out a planned litter pick with the National Trust at Burton Bradstock beach.

Wilts & Dorset Bus Company took most of its buses off the road before 1900 GMT.

Rail passengers have been affected by extensive cancellations to scheduled Southern, Southeastern and South West Trains services throughout Monday.

First Great Western (FGW) services between London Paddington and Reading, Berkshire, and the West Country have also been disrupted because of "adverse weather conditions".

Lewes and Brighton & Hove courts were closed while most libraries in Surrey are shut.

MIDLANDS

The Highways Agency sent out 32 gritters and 20 patrol vehicles across the Midlands in a bid to keep traffic moving as heavy snow moved into the area.

However, officers had to close two lanes of the M6 northbound, near Corley in the West Midlands, after two lorries crashed and spilled 1,000 litres of fuel onto the road late on Monday afternoon.

Thick snow on the M54 through Staffordshire and Shropshire was also causing some concern, although grit has helped to ensure it remained open to traffic.

Pupils at 200 Leicestershire and Rutland schools had the day off while all adult learning classes in Leicestershire were also cancelled.

Redhouse Park in Birmingham
Children in sledging in a snow covered Redhouse Park in Birmingham

Schools were also shut across the counties of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire.

Birmingham City Council has announced that all its schools will be closed on Tuesday. The council's staff were among local authority workers in many areas sent home early on Monday.

The heavy snow also took its toll on the legal system, with several cases at Northampton Crown Court put off because of travel difficulties for both defendants and a judge.

Refuse collections were called off in the Blaby district of Leicestershire while Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, had to cancel a visit to open Derby's first skills academy.

WALES

Rescue teams from RAF Valley on Anglesey had to winch two men to safety from Snowdon.

Hours earlier, two bodies had been found on the mountain by rescuers searching for two brothers who had gone missing in freezing conditions.

Police said roads were becoming "quite dangerous" in mid-Wales as the snow became heavier through Monday.

Accidents were reported in the Builth Wells, Llandrindod Wells and Rhayader areas after several inches of snow fell on parts of the A483 and the A470 within a few hours on Monday evening.

The A489 near Newtown was closed for several hours after being blocked by a lorry which broke down between Kerry and Sarn.

Drivers on the M4 between junctions 38 and 49 were also facing heavy snow.

Around 155 schools closed in Wales because of the weather conditions and up to 4 inches (10cm) of snow was expected to fall over the country during Monday and Tuesday.

Cardiff City's FA Cup fourth-round replay against Arsenal was put back until 16 February.

NORTHERN ENGLAND

Snow is causing traffic delays across Greater Manchester, with two Pennine roads shut due to heavy falls and ice.

Treacherous driving conditions have been reported on the M6 in Cheshire and the M60.

Snow in Carlisle
Carlisle woke up to several inches of snow

Drifting snow is hampering traffic crossing the Pennines via the M62 and has caused the exit sliproads at junction 22 in West Yorkshire to be closed.

Another major trans-Pennine route, the A66, remains closed eastbound between the A1 at Scotch Corner and the A685 at the Cumbrian border.

Earlier, police said several lorries became stranded on the A69 near Cumbria after failing to negotiate Greenhead Bank, causing huge tailbacks to Haltwhistle.

North Yorkshire Police attended 50 road accidents between 0400 and 1130 GMT on Monday, while in South Yorkshire the southbound carriageway of the A1(M) motorway was closed for two hours after a 12-vehicle pile-up near Doncaster.

Northern Gas Networks said engineers were being hampered by heavy snow on roads as they tried to restore gas supplies to more than 2,000 homes in Rothbury, Northumberland, after an equipment failure.

Many people were facing Monday night without heating.

Heavy snow led to the closure of more than 440 schools in Yorkshire and Humberside, according to the government.

Meanwhile, more than 200 schools closed across Cumbria and the north-east of England.

The snow led to delays at both Leeds Bradford and Liverpool airports.

SCOTLAND

Weather warnings of heavy and drifting snow are in place for many southern and eastern parts of Scotland.

Sheep in snow
Heavy snow showers hit parts of the Scottish Borders

Forecasters predict the east coast will have six inches (15cm) of snow, leaving hazardous driving conditions on Tuesday morning.

Scottish Borders Council has confirmed all 74 of its schools will be shut and many others across the country are likely to follow suit.

Conditions worsened throughout Monday, although Glasgow and Prestwick airports remained open and were accepting diverted flights which had been bound for other parts of the UK.

Edinburgh Airport - Scotland's largest - closed for an hour at around 1730 GMT because of heavy snow.

BAA Scotland said bad weather south of the border had forced the cancellation of 158 flights to and from its three Scottish airports - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen - throughout Monday.

Blizzard conditions caused major disruption to some ferry services.

A paramedic crew had a lucky escape in Perthshire, when their ambulance overturned in atrocious conditions as they responded to a call in Kinross.


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