Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow and ice close more than half of Wales' schools

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Heavy snowfall has continued to disrupt services and travel across Wales

Over half of the 1,800 schools in Wales shut on Wednesday due to snow and ice.

Thousands of pupils enjoyed a day off as motorists battled treacherous driving conditions and buses and trains struggled to run.

Emergency services say they are being stretched and have urged people to only call 999 if really necessary.

Some hospitals have cancelled non-urgent operations, court and council buildings were affected and refuse collections were also being hit.

Snow fell on large parts of Wales overnight and into Wednesday morning, with the worst affected areas in the south east. More icy weather is forecast overnight into Thursday.

Schools and colleges across the nation closed and Cardiff's UWIC announced that all exams scheduled to be held at its Cyncoed Campus on Thursday have been cancelled.

Cardiff Airport was closed until 1500 GMT on Wednesday while many rail services between south Wales and London Paddington were cancelled.

Bus operators said they were doing their best to keep services running but some routes were suspended or terminated early.

WEATHER ROUND UP
Derek Brockway

Derek Brockway, BBC Wales weather forecaster

North and west Wales were worst hit by snow on Tuesday but the snow spread further south overnight into the morning to affect the south and east of the country, and Powys.

Around a couple of inches (5cm) fell in Cardiff, with four to six inches (10-15cm) in other parts of south and east Wales, and reports of 12 inches (30cm) in the Brecon Beacons.

I think the worst of the heavy snow has moved away but with a few snow showers for south Wales on Wednesday afternoon. The north and west of the country is brightening up.

The main problem for the bulk of Wales on Wednesday night will be ice - we could see temperatures fall to minus 10C or possibly lower in some rural areas.

There could be more snow on Wednesday night and Thursday morning in north-west Wales, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire.

People travelling by public transport are urged to check their operators' website for information.

Over 900 schools in Wales shut on Wednesday along with some colleges.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan, and Ysbyty Gwynedd have cancelled all clinic appointments and all elective surgery due to the state of the roads around the hospital and because ambulances cannot guarantee they can bring patients to and from the site.

Urgent surgery and planned surgery for those already in hospital will go ahead.

Several roads were closed in the south Wales valleys, while motorists were urged to take care on the M4.

Some routes in the north, mid and west Wales are described as hazardous and only just passable.

Bus services were cancelled in some areas including the Stagecoach service in the Torfaen and Severnside Area.

First Cymru said some of its services in Swansea and west Wales had been hit.

Cardiff Bus is now operating with minor changes after earlier disruption.

Courts have been closed in the Gwent area.

The freezing weather is expected to continue for up to a fortnight causing grit shortages for some councils.

Car covered in snow
Snow has caused a problem for motorists across Wales

Further snow is expected in the Newport and the Monmouthshire areas.

The Welsh Ambulance Service in north Wales said the weather had created huge problems in attending emergencies.

A spokesperson said: "We would ask the public not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.

"If you need advice, please call the NHS Direct Wales line on 0845 4647.

"Unfortunately, it is likely that patients waiting for a response to a genuine 999 emergency call will experience delays, however the ambulance service will make every effort to attend calls as soon as possible."

North Wales Police advised people not to travel unless it was absolutely essential with conditions on many minor roads remaining treacherous.

First Great Western, which runs trains between south Wales and London, said it had put in place a severe weather warning timetable.

The assembly government said it would free up road salt from its reserves to help local authorities running low.

It said councils were scheduled to receive more than 200 lorry loads of salt, which is 6,000 tons in total, between Tuesday and Thursday.

A spokesman said salt stocks were being monitored on an hourly basis.

In Flintshire, councillors warned of the dangers of people stealing salt and grit, after a spate of thefts from roadside bins.

Councillor Tony Sharps, executive member for environment, said: "Not only are they stealing the salt, but in some cases the bins have been taken as well. I can't understand their thinking because it affects the most vulnerable."



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SEE ALSO
Grit shortage fears during snow
05 Jan 10 |  Wales
Police called to airlift walker
02 Jan 10 |  Wales
Drivers warned of icy roads risk
02 Jan 10 |  Wales

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