Page last updated at 22:01 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Storm due to bring snow and rain

A snow plough
A winter storm is predicted to bring snow and heavy rain

A winter storm is set to bring snow and heavy rain to parts of the UK.

It is due to arrive in southern England and Wales on Monday afternoon, spread to the Midlands and continue overnight into Tuesday, forecasters say.

It could bring up to eight inches of snow (20cm) in some areas, and 30 to 40 millimetres of rain in others.

Snow has already started to fall in Northern Ireland, south west Scotland, and parts of the Midlands and the north west of England.

BBC weather forecaster Tomasz Schafernaker said between two and six inches (5-15cm) of snow was also due to fall on Sunday night over the Midlands and East Anglia.

Local Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said more supplies of road salt were being imported from abroad.

Strathclyde and Dumfries & Galloway police forces said many roads were being affected by snow on Sunday evening, but that most should be passable with care.

Ice is also affecting routes across Scotland in sub-zero temperatures.

Meanwhile, motorists are being urged to drive with extra caution in Northern Ireland where the Road Service predicts snowfalls of up to two inches.

These are once in 20-year occurrences, so obviously we are not going to keep these stocks all the time, it would be a waste of taxpayers' money
Hazel Blears, Local Communities Secretary

On Monday afternoon, parts of Britain, from the south up to the Midlands, will either experience snowfall and high winds or heavy rain.

Where the rain falls it will be on areas that already have snowed, meaning it will add to the potential for flooding.

Gale force winds will cause drifting where snow is falling and exacerbate already freezing temperatures.

In Northern Ireland, heavy snow caused the runway at City of Derry Airport to close on Sunday until the early afternoon, but it later re-opened.

Some councils in England have already been running out of road salt, with the Highways Agency saying supplies were "very limited".

A container ship is travelling from Spain with 40,000 tonnes of salt, and another ship is also heading to the UK with salt from Germany. Both are expected to dock on Wednesday.

A salt delivery at the Stroudwater council gritting depot
The Stroudwater council gritting depot has taken to using table salt

Ms Blears said gritting operations are still managing to keep roads moving, that councils had been helping each other and that more supplies of road salt were being brought in from abroad.

"We are now buying in from abroad. I have just heard that we are getting some salt from Italy, there is a boat from Tunisia on its way.

"These are once in 20-year occurrences, so obviously we are not going to keep these stocks all the time, it would be a waste of taxpayers' money."

But Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, warned that even the 40,000 tonnes of salt from Spain was not enough.

"Just one salt run can be 130 tonnes, and you have to think of all the different authorities that are involved," he said.

Roads in Gloucestershire will be treated with table salt on Sunday night, after low supplies of rock salt forced the local county council to resort to ordering 500 tonnes of normal white salt.

The council's depot in Stroudwater took delivery of 100 tonnes of the salt on Sunday and will receive more in the coming days.

The coarse white salt is a by-product of creating table salt for food, and is now being mixed with two thirds rock salt to be spread on 'A' roads.

Pond fatality

A six-year-old boy died after falling through ice into a fishing pond at Streethouse near Pontefract on Saturday.

Another boy, aged 12, was pulled from the pond but the six-year-old had to be recovered by fire service divers and he later died in hospital.

Three children were injured in two separate sledging accidents in Warwickshire on Saturday.

Remote farmhouse near Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales
This farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales is surrounded by snow

A nine-year-old boy suffered back injuries when his sledge struck a boulder in Edgehill.

On 3 February, Francesca Anobile, 16, died when the sledge she was on crashed in South Yorkshire.

North Wales Police say the body of the man found on Snowdon on Saturday has been confirmed as that of a 27-year-old man from the Shrewsbury area.

A police spokesman has urged walkers to stay off the range in the current freezing conditions unless they are experienced walkers with full equipment.

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