Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 12:47 UK

Easter holiday 'wet and windy' in UK, say forecasters

Showers are expected on a mixed Easter weekend

Miserable weather is likely to mar the Easter weekend, despite the passing of snow storms which have hit UK areas.

Forecasters say rain will spread across the country on Friday, while 10,000 homes in Northern Ireland and 400 in Scotland remain without power.

About two million people are expected to flee the UK in search of sun, according to travel organisation Abta.

Motoring organisations predict 20 million people will take to UK roads, while rail travel is hampered by works.

Traffic analyst Trafficmaster said congestion on the roads was usual for a bank holiday, with heavy traffic on routes out of London.

The southbound M5 near the M4 junction at Bristol and the M3 southbound toward Southampton were also badly hit.

Traffic in Kent was compounded on Friday by the unexpected French ferry workers' strike at Dover.

The 48-hour industrial action prompted the traffic mitigation measure known as Operation Stack, with lorries unable to cross the Channel parking on the motorway.

The M20 was closed on Friday morning between junctions 11 and 12, and operators SeaFrance urged passengers to stay away from the port.

Wet forecast

Roads remain treacherous in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland affected by snow, although clearer weather has offered some respite.

BBC weather forecaster Carol Kirkwood said the bank holiday weather would not be a washout, although rain would edge in across the UK on Good Friday.

Showers will follow on Saturday, with increasing sunshine on Easter Sunday.

Electricity pylons in snowy field

The Highways Agency said 74 sets of road works on England's major routes would be completed by Easter, with work on a further 60 suspended over the weekend.

However, restrictions remain at 40 locations, including a section of the M25 around Maple Cross in Hertfordshire and a stretch of the M4 near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

Network Rail engineering work will result in longer journey times for some train passengers.

There will be reduced services on both the West and East Coast main lines, with rail-replacement buses in some areas.

Some First Great Western and South West Trains services are also affected by works, with buses replacing trains on some routes.

Abta, which represents UK travel agents, says a million people will fly from London airports this weekend, along with 155,000 from Scotland and 141,000 from Manchester.

Spain, Tenerife, the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Tunisia, Turkey, Florida and the Dominican Republic are among the top destinations for holidaymakers.

'Greatly missed'

Thursday afternoon saw heavy traffic around Manchester and Birmingham as people left work early to get away for the Easter break.

The southbound M6 was shut close to the M1 junction in Warwickshire after a serious crash in the evening rush-hour, which left two people seriously injured.

Throughout the week, up to 100,000 people have been affected by wintry weather. Some 10,000 homes in Northern Ireland and 400 in Scotland still remain without power, after snow and ice on cables brought down power lines.

Blizzard conditions had continued into Thursday morning, when 107 people were stuck aboard Wednesday's 1611 Glasgow to Inverness train for over seven hours.

It became stranded north of Aviemore between Carrbridge and Slochd, 20 miles south of Inverness. Passengers eventually reached Inverness at about 0315 BST after two rescue trains were deployed.

Strathclyde Police undated handout photo of Natasha Paton, 17, who was killed when her coach bound for the Alton Towers theme park plunged 10ft into a stream during a snowstorm
Natasha Paton died in a coach crash near Biggar in South Lanarkshire

On Wednesday, Natasha Paton, 17, from Cleghorn, was killed when a school coach crashed on the A73 at Wiston, South Lanarkshire.

Natasha's parents issued a statement in which they said they were devastated at the loss of their "beloved daughter", adding that she would "be greatly missed by all who knew her".

The school coach had been carrying 39 students from Lanark Grammar School, five members of staff and a driver when it left the road and ended up on its side just after 0600 BST.

NHS Lanarkshire said 44 people in total had received hospital treatment following the crash.


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SEE ALSO
Strike hits cross-Channel ferry
02 Apr 10 |  Kent
Twelve people hurt in M6 pile-up
01 Apr 10 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Snow strands passengers on train
01 Apr 10 |  Highlands and Islands
Thousands without power overnight
01 Apr 10 |  Scotland
30,000 homes still without power
31 Mar 10 |  Northern Ireland

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