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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007, 21:28 GMT
Snowfalls move north and turn icy
Skier near Brecon Beacons

Freezing snow and ice were the main hazards for drivers late on Thursday as the winter's first heavy snowfall melted away.

Large areas of Wales were hit by up to 15cm (6in) of snow and almost 800 schools were closed on Thursday.

There was travel disruption on the roads and to bus and train services. Cardiff airport's runway was also shut.

The snow headed north and the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen was closed by North Wales Police.

The south Wales valleys, parts of Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion and the Brecon Beacons were worst hit early on Thursday as a band of wintry weather moved in from the west.

Sennybridge in the Beacons was one of the worst places hit with 7cm (3in) of snow falling and overnight temperatures plummeted to -4C (25F).

Sion and Alex, in Pontypridd
Sledging fun because school is out

By midday most of the snow in the south was disappearing but the north of the country still experienced snow into the evening.

BBC Wales meteorologist Derek Brockway said the worst of the snow was now over, although more could follow at the weekend.

He warned the main problem on Thursday evening was slush and water on the roads freezing over.

"The main hazard at the moment is going to be with the ice," he said.

"Temperatures are going to be below freezing in many areas.

"There's a lot of water and slush around so that will freeze and it's going to be a tricky rush hour in many areas.

Aberystwyth (Pic Del Bucknor)
Aberystwyth woke up to a covering of snow

"The first of the snow is over for the time being but it looks like there will be more rain and snow for some at the weekend."

Thursday's first real winter snowfalls had been signalled by the Met Office which issued a severe weather warning.

In response many schools decided to close to pupils beforehand, giving them a chance to try out their sledging skills.

There was criticism from some parents. One told BBC News: "I'm from Invernesshire and we used to have feet of snow, and we'd still be going to school."

But Iwan Guy of the National Association of Head Teachers said: "I sympathise with them, but at the end of the day it's the safety of the children that is paramount."

On some roads snow drifts reached 10ft while in the south Wales valleys towns looked more like Alpine resorts.

In Merthyr Tydfil, Prince Charles Hospital had to cancel non-urgent operations - while Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team in a Land-Rover had to be called in to help one ambulance crew whose vehicle could not cope with the conditions.

The team's Huw Jones said they helped take to hospital a five-months pregnant woman who had breathing difficulties.

The weather was also causing problems for farmers already facing an early lambing season this year.

Snow in Cardiff (Pic Dave Jones)
Even Cardiff, which often escapes the snow, was blanketed

In Monmouthshire around 800 homes were without electricity for a while as snow damaged power lines while Denbighshire Council had to suspend the meals on wheels services because of the adverse conditions.

Rugby fans hoping to fly to Scotland for this weekend's Six Nations match were delayed at Bristol, Birmingham and at Cardiff, where the runway was also temporarily closed.

Motoring organisations advised people travelling by car to take warm clothes, food, water, a torch and a spade in case of a breakdown.

Arriva Trains Wales said it had allocated extra train and staff resources but warned passengers to allow extra time for their journeys.

Virgin Trains said most of its north Wales services would not operate south of Crewe, where passengers will need to change for alternative trains.




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