Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Freeze hits schools and roads again across Wales

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Snow and ice meant another day off school for thousands of pupils

Plummeting temperatures in Wales brought a second day of disruption for drivers and many parents.

Motorists faced hazardous driving conditions of ice upon snow as councils say their salts stock are running low.

Nearly 1,000 schools stayed closed on Thursday, with 300 already set to close again on Friday.

Ice formed at the marina in Aberystwyth for the first time since 1963 and a temperature of -14C was recorded at nearby Trawscoed in Ceredigion.

Ice also formed in part of Aberaeron harbour just down the coast.

The Met Office said the prolonged cold spell, with clear skies overnight, meant drivers faced more treacherous conditions with widespread icy roads.

Most parts of the country experienced freezing conditions and a severe weather warning has remained in place for the whole country.

As well as Trawscoed, the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire also said they had recorded a temperature of -14C on Thursday morning.

BIG FREEZE
Derek Brockway

Derek Brockway, BBC Wales weather forecaster

Of course, cold snaps in winter are not unusual but this one is much longer than we're used to.

In fact it's the worst in Britain for about 30 years. So what's caused it?

Well basically the weather pattern is stuck in a rut.

We've got high pressure to the north of Britain. It's what we call a blocking high.

These can occur at any time of the year and can last for several weeks.

They can bring us lovely, warm weather in April and May but, in winter, high pressure to the north of Britain means bitterly cold north-easterly winds.

The jet stream at the moment is way to the south, so Spain is getting all the rain.

The Met Office said widespread ice was expected to persist, especially on untreated roads and pavements.

Around 1,000 schools were closed again on Thursday including all schools in the Vale of Glamorgan, and many in Caerphilly, Cardiff, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Dyfed-Powys Police said roads were poor in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, though they are passable with care. But people are being urged to stay indoors and only make essential journeys.

A 29-year-old man was freed by firefighters and flown to hospital with crush injuries after being trapped under a fallen tree on snow-covered farmland at Ty Nant near Corwen.

Meanwhile, a retired teacher from Buckley, Flintshire, died in a road crash on the Shetland islands.

In Torfaen, the family of 103-year-old Millie Jenkins paid tribute to council officials, who moved her to a care home by Land Rover after her house in Garndiffaith developed an electrical fault.

Forestry supervisor Phil Grimes managed to reach Mrs Jenkins through the snow and ice at her home in the village.

"She was a lovely lady and I was more than happy to help," said Mr Grimes.

Her son Dennis Jenkins said: "Without him, my mother would have been stranded as it would have been almost impossible to reach her ourselves."

The Federation of Small Businesses in Wales estimates the current cold spell is costing Wales around £25m in lost productivity each day.

Spokesman Simon Evans said some workers were struggling to get into work due to the state of the minor roads and problems with public transport.

"Add to that the fact people are having to stay at home to look after their child care demands," he added.

Buses in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath, Bridgend, Maesteg and Cardiff are running but are mostly keeping to the main roads and are not venturing on to side streets.

Cardiff council said it was only salting a dozen "priority routes" from Thursday evening in a bid to conserve rock salt supplies.

PRIORITY SALTING IN CARDIFF
A4232: Culverhouse Cross to Central Link; Pentwyn Link
A4234: Central Link
B4267: Leckwith Road
A48: Culverhouse Cross roundabout to Newport Road at St Mellons roundabout
A469: Newport Road to Whitchurch Road
A470: Coryton to Boulevard de Nantes
A470: High Street
A470: St Mary Street
A4054: Cardiff Road/Station Road/ Kelston Road/Park Road/ Pendwyalt
A4055: Cogan Spur
A4161: Wellington Street to B4487, Newport Road; St Mellons roundabout
A48: Slip roads to UHW and A&E department
Source: Cardiff council

These included the Culverhouse Cross roundabout and the slip roads to the University Hospital of Wales.

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

Arriva Trains Wales said services on many routes were being disrupted and it strongly advised passengers not to travel on routes on Thursday evening where buses were planned to replace the train service due to engineering work.

It said: "At short notice the bus services may not be able to operate if roads become impassable due to the inclement weather."

First Great Western has suspended Cardiff to London Paddington services at 55 minutes past the hour and Paddington to Cardiff services at 15 minutes past the hour.

However, all services between London Paddington to and from Swansea are operating normally.

The assembly government said it was giving extra supplies of gritting salt to some local authorities as many report their supplies are under pressures after days of round-the-clock salting to keep main routes open.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said the assembly government had been working with local authorities over the past 12 months to ensure a "significant increase" in salt stock levels over last year.

He said: "In addition to providing some local authorities with additional salt supplies, we are liaising with suppliers to assist in the prioritisation of deliveries to local authorities."

A 4x4 vehicle on a slush-covered rural road
Freezing temperatures overnight brought hazardous icy conditions

North Wales Police is reminding motorists to take precautions when driving on icy or snow covered roads.

Traffic Wales is warning that a number of mountain and rural roads remain closed or have difficult driving conditions due to snow.

Routine out-patient appointments at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil on Thursday have been cancelled.

However, routine operations and outpatient clinics at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd are returning after cancellations on Wednesday.

Saturday's National Hunt card at the Ffos Las horse racing course in Carmarthenshire has been abandoned due to frost and snow.

The Pembrokeshire tourist attraction Folly Farm said it would be closed on Saturday and Sunday due to the adverse weather conditions.

In Carmarthen, the fat stock market is also cancelled. It is scheduled to take place on Friday, to be included with the monthly cattle and pig sale.

Cardiff's UWIC has said that all exams scheduled to be held at its Cyncoed campus on Thursday have been cancelled.



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