Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Icy conditions hit the UK after days of heavy snow

Traffic in snow in Reading
More snow is predicted as ice is expected to cause chaos on the roads

People are battling with treacherous conditions after sub-zero temperatures followed days of heavy snow to leave icy roads and pavements across the UK.

Thousands of schools remain shut and travel problems continue, while power cuts are affecting thousands of homes.

UK-wide severe weather warnings of ice are in place amid freezing temperatures and "nightmare" side road conditions.

The mercury fell to -18C overnight in places and temperatures were typically between -8C and 0C at lunchtime.

The Arctic conditions are expected to continue for up to a week.

The National Grid has issued its second gas alert in three days, with demand expected to hit a new record of 454 million cubic metres on Thursday.

Get the latest on school closures and travel problems via your BBC Local website
Check if snow is forecast in your area at BBC Weather
Details of motorway and local road closures and public transport disruption are available at BBC Travel News
For advice on handling difficult driving conditions, see the Highways Agency website
For information about severe weather warnings, see the Met Office website
For information about staying healthy in the current cold snap, see the NHS Winter Health website

A spokeswoman said technical problems had led to a supply shortfall of 52 million cubic metres from the Langeled pipeline, which takes gas from Norway.

National Grid said other suppliers were putting more gas into the network and major customers were cutting back on usage in response to the alert.

About 4,000 homes across southern England are without electricity because of trees falling on power lines and safety mechanisms being triggered by ice weighing down cables.

Up to 25,000 homes across Britain have been similarly affected since Wednesday.

Eurostar is running a limited service after the breakdown of a Brussels to London train in the Channel Tunnel this morning.

Eurotunnel is only allowing one Eurostar train at a time in the tunnel, which means delays for travellers.

All major airports are operating but passengers have been warned to expect delays.

Budget airline Easyjet has cancelled nearly 70 flights on Thursday, mostly at Gatwick where a total of 136 inbound and outbound flights were scrapped. British Airways has also cancelled some flights.

On the railways, 20 operators' services are disrupted. East Coast has advised passengers not to travel between Perth and Inverness.

Virgin Trains has cancelled several services between London and both Manchester and Birmingham.

Southern Trains warned of "severe disruption", while First Great Western has cancelled several London to Cheltenham, Bristol and Cardiff services.

First TransPennine Express was reporting many delays, with signalling problems at Northallerton snarling up the network in North Yorkshire.

Several councils around the UK are limiting gritting to major roads, as salt supplies are stretched.

Light traffic

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said the government was working with councils, devolved administrations and the Highways Agency to help salt suppliers prioritise deliveries.

BBC Radio 5 live's travel reporter Nick Duncalf said it was so cold that grit might have no effect, although most major routes were "fairly under control" with light traffic levels.

There were delays on the M20 in Kent, caused by a jackknifed lorry and fuel spillage, and on the M5 in Worcestershire and M60 in Greater Manchester after accidents.

The A66 in Cumbria remains closed.

What happens if this weather stays with us for 3 to 4 weeks?
Snowman, Essex

The north-south A470 is closed between Rhayader and Doldowlod, Powys, after a crash.

Poor driving conditions also closed routes including the A542 Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen, Clwyd, and the A4233 and A4061 around Merthyr Tydfil, mid-Glamorgan.

An AA spokesman said: "Drivers should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the break in the heavy snow - ice is far more dangerous to drive on than snow."

A teenage boy died and his mother was seriously injured when they were hit by a lorry after leaving a car that had crashed on the A1 in North Yorkshire near Scotch Corner on Wednesday night.

A 42-year-old man died further along the road when his car crashed with a lorry south of Cockburnspath in Berwickshire.

In Aberdeenshire, a man was treated in hospital after being injured when the weight of snow caused a cattle shed to collapse on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, a search has begun in Glen Affric in the Highlands for a 40-year-old man and a boy, 15, who have not been heard from for two days.

Map showing areas of deepest snow

Widespread school closures have continued, with about 950 shut in Wales and 700 in Scotland.

About 2,000 closed across northern England, as well as hundreds in the Midlands and more than 1,000 in the South West, along with the University of Bath.

The rest of southern England was badly hit, with more than 900 shut in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, 250 in Oxfordshire, 380 in Surrey and 600 in the Solent.

Nearly 600 were shut in East Anglia, with a further 500 in Kent and 200 in Essex.

The Federation of Small Businesses has criticised head teachers for closing schools too readily, saying lost working days affect many companies.

Overnight temperatures plunged to a low of -18C (0F) in Woodford in Greater Manchester and Benson in Oxfordshire. Monitors recorded -13C (9F) in Manchester, -6C (21F) in Glasgow and - 3C (27F) in central London.

Up to 5cm (2ins) of snow is forecast for eastern England during Thursday, and snow showers are also possible in Aberdeenshire, the Midlands, the South East, Pembrokeshire and Cornwall. Stronger winds could lead to some drifting.

Maximum temperatures should remain around freezing nationwide, while overnight it could drop to -20C.

BBC weather forecaster Liam Dutton said: "Ice will be the main hazard for most people today. Side roads will be a nightmare."

Sporting fixtures continue to fall foul of the weather, with race meetings at Kempton and Lingfield called off and the weekend's racing, rugby and football fixtures under threat.


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UK forecast for 05/12/2021

Map Key

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