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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 20:22 GMT
Heavy snow causes travel misery
Gridlocked traffic in the snow in Birmingham city centre
The snow has brought traffic to a standstill in Birmingham

Heavy snow falls have caused travel chaos for thousands of people across large parts of England.

Up to 6in (15cm) of snow fell in the Midlands leaving rush hour drivers caught in road gridlock. There were also serious rail delays.

A Royal British Legion club in Worcestershire has offered overnight accommodation for stranded drivers.

The snow storm is moving north-eastwards and people are being urged not to travel unless essential.

The worst affected areas were Herefordshire, Worcestershire, the West Midlands and Staffordshire, though snow also fell in parts of South Yorkshire.

Office worker Sian Mulgrew, from Lichfield, Staffordshire, said: "It is almost a whiteout and has been snowing really heavily for hours.

The snowfall has intensified across west and central parts today, but people further up the country should prepare for it to reach them
Sue Powell
BBC Weather Centre

"Travel is a nightmare. Drivers travelling in opposite directions are stopping to talk to each other to ask about road conditions."

Traffic in Birmingham city centre was at a standstill for the evening.

West Midlands Police said people should not drive through the city centre unless it was absolutely unavoidable

The city council opened up the Council House in Victoria Square so that people who had abandoned their cars could walk there to get a cup of tea.

Several roads in the Malvern area were blocked by jack-knifed lorries and a 15-mile queue was reported on the M5 near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire during the afternoon.

About 250 cars were abandoned on the A4103, the main road between Hereford and Worcester.

And gritters were stuck in traffic near Kidderminster leaving them unable to spread salt over affected roads.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said roads were so gridlocked it was hampering crews' ability to answer 999 calls.

Max Berlyn, 7, at home in Pershore, Worcs

A spokesman said: "We urgently need any assistance to try and reduce the number of 999 calls for less serious types of incidents - we are still getting calls to the likes of stubbed toes and minor cuts and bruising."

Birmingham International Airport suspended flights in and out for three hours so snow could be cleared from the runway, though it reopened later.

A spokeswoman said: "We are working to get things moving as quickly as possible. Once we can get people in the air again there will be some delays."

Hundreds of schools were closed for the day, while many people left work early because of fears road conditions would get worse as the day progressed.

Gloucestershire ambulance crews had to use high performance vehicles to reach people in the Forest of Dean area because the road conditions were so treacherous.

Sue Powell from the BBC Weather Centre said the snow would hit other parts of the country as Friday progressed.

She added: "The north Midlands and the Pennines are next in line.

Sheep in the snow in County Durham
Sheep in the snow in County Durham

"The snowfall has intensified across west and central parts today, but people further up the country should prepare for it to reach them."

Forecasters also said plunging temperatures meant surface water on roads would freeze, leading to black ice in many parts of the country.

At least one person died in a crash on the M27 in Hampshire on Thursday, although it was unclear if the weather had been a contributory factor.

A section of the M1 was shut in Derbyshire on Friday morning after a collision between a car and a van near Mansfield.

More snow has been predicted for Saturday in central and northern England.

Luton Town's match against Norwich City became the first of Saturday's football fixtures to be called off due to the weather, though others followed.

Friday's horse racing meeting at Wolverhampton, which began before heavy snow started to fall again in the West Midlands, was abandoned after three races.


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