Page last updated at 00:01 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009
UK prepares for freezing weekend


Tuesday's snow and ice

Parts of the UK have struggled with a second day of disruption following their heaviest snowfalls in 18 years, which closed more than 6,000 schools.

Wales and south-west England bore the brunt of the snow on Tuesday, which is expected to move north.

South-east England saw further delays on roads and cancelled trains and flights, while gritters have struggled to reach some areas in the Pennines.

Forecasters warned more heavy snow could fall later in the week.

Council leaders have admitted stocks of grit have been massively depleted, but say they are unlikely to run out as supplies are being continuously restocked.

Although Monday night's snowfall in northern England was not as heavy as had been forecast, many minor roads have witnessed tailbacks and heavy disruption.

Sledging death

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old girl has died in hospital after being injured in a sledging accident in South Yorkshire.

Francesca Anobile, of Mosborough, Sheffield, was one of four girls hurt at Rother Valley Country Park, Rotherham, on Tuesday afternoon.

They had been using an improvised sledge which is understood to have gone through a barbed wire fence before striking another fence.

Snow was forecast to fall in eastern Scotland and the Borders on Tuesday evening, with further falls predicted for northern Scotland on Wednesday.


BBC weather forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker said the entire UK was likely to witness heavy frosts on Tuesday night, and there was a possibility of more significant, heavy snow showers in England and Wales at the end of the week.

"There is a risk of round two," he said.

More than 6,000 UK schools were shut on Tuesday, including 578 in Wales, 450 in Hampshire, 428 in Birmingham, 400 in Essex and 350 in Leicester and Rutland.

Authorities including East Sussex, West Sussex, Somerset, East Staffordshire, Dudley, and Kent also closed schools.

Authorities have already announced that nearly 40 schools in Wales will remain closed on Wednesday.

Margaret Morrissey, of the Parents Outloud campaign group, said the decision to keep thousands of schools shut for a second day sent the wrong signals to children.

She added: "We are giving children the message that when things get difficult, you should just stay at home and have fun."

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he understood the frustration of working parents but believed many would have welcomed an early decision on school closures:

"Many parents, wanting to plan their arrangements for today, will be pleased to have certainty yesterday of what was going to happen," he said.

In other developments:

• Two men have been airlifted to hospital following two separate incidents in which they have fallen from toboggans, in Sedgley, West Midlands. They both suffered back injuries.

• Two military rescue helicopters assisted ambulance services in parts of Devon and Cornwall as roads became impassable following 10cm of snow in some areas.

Meanwhile, trains on the East Coast Main Line were disrupted, with at least nine rail services between London and Leeds cancelled.

Services were badly affected on Southeastern and South West Trains into and out of London, with suspensions or reduced timetables on most routes.

Southern has now resumed operation of some services from Kent and the south coast, although suspensions are still in place on the London to Brighton route and others around Greater London.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said all operators should be running a normal, full-time service by Wednesday.


Eurostar services from St Pancras International are still suffering disruption and all train passengers are advised to check with National Rail Enquiries before setting out.

Transport for London said most bus routes were operating but three remained suspended, while all London Underground lines were now running, although experiencing delays.

Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick and London City airports are all open but have suffered a second day of "significant delays and cancellations".

Flights at Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton and Aberdeen have also suffered disruption.

British Airways said diversions on Monday meant many planes had not been in the right places for their departures on Tuesday.

The Highways Agency is continuing to warn drivers in the worst-affected areas to travel only if their journey is essential.

Those who do venture out should be well prepared, it said.

We've got enough grit to make sure that we can grit continuously for the next 12 days
Jenny Hart, Highways Agency

The number of car journeys made across its network on Monday evening was 31% down on normal levels, according to the agency. Tuesday's rush hour was 26.5% down on a normal morning.

An agency spokeswoman said 500 gritting lorries were being used to keep main routes open.

Jenny Hart said: "We're well prepared for everything that the snow throws at us at the moment. We've got enough grit to make sure that we can grit continuously for the next 12 days - that's 18,000 tonnes of grit just in Yorkshire alone."

All the main roads remain open in Scotland, which avoided the severe weather seen in England and Wales and saw temperatures mostly stay above freezing overnight.

The extent of the disruption to the transport network has prompted some criticism of the UK's preparations for the snow.

BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds said it was clear that local authorities did not have the resources to cope - but he said many experts believed it would not be worth the extra investment given the infrequency of such conditions.

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