Page last updated at 19:13 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Delay as heavy snowfall returns to Wales


Caroline Evans's journey in the snow from Cardiff to Brecon

Another day of heavy snowfall has brought widespread disruption again to many parts of Wales.

A minibus crashed into the hall of a house in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, and 60 lorries were stuck at a service station off the M4 near Cardiff.

More than 750 schools closed or were partially shut, while Cardiff Airport reopened after a 12-hour closure.

The Met Office issued a weather warning of widespread ice on roads and pavements during Wednesday evening.

BBC Wales weather forecaster Derek Brockway

Derek Brockway, BBC Wales weather forecaster

On Wednesday evening, light snow in the north east will move away, with a largely dry night, and some mist, low cloud and fog patches. Temperatures on the coast just above freezing but inland down to 0 to -2 Celsius with a risk of ice.

Thursday morning, ice and fog will be the main problems, with some poor visibility. It will be mostly dry with a few spots rain or drizzle, but remaining grey and misty. Highs of 1 to 4 Celsius but milder in Pembrokeshire with a high of 7 Celsius on the coast.

During the day there were many road closures forcing motorists to make long diversions or give up on their journeys.

In Carmarthenshire, a minibus crashed into the hallway of a house while a young family slept up stairs.

Sarah Skilton of Capel Hendre in Ammanford said the vehicle had caused a "massive amount" of damage to the home she shares with her husband and sons. "The minibus hit a BMW coming down Waterloo Road and is now parked in my front hall," she said.

She said her family were badly shaken but unhurt. "It's done a massive amount of damage - the bus is holding up the front of the house at the moment.

"Thankfully they (her two sons aged 10 and seven) were up in their bedroom. Because of the snow the school is shut and we let them sleep in." The old Severn Bridge reopened at 1200 GMT after being closed for nine hours.

South Wales Police advised motorists to travel only if the journey was absolutely necessary. As well as the valleys and Cardiff, about 5in (12cm) of snow fell in Bridgend and Porthcawl.

Minibus crash damage Photo: Sarah Skilton
The damage caused by a minibus to the hallway of a house in Ammanford

Around 60 lorries were stuck at the Cardiff West services off the M4, due to snow and ice on the exit road and two trucks jack-knifing as they tried to leave.

Lorry driver Rose Beckett, 59, from Warwickshire, said she has never experienced this problem in almost 30 years of driving across Europe, including Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

Her boss at Panic Transport, Rugby, ordered her to park up for the night when she was unable to complete her delivery of bathrooms and kitchens.

She said: "If an Austrian truck with snow chains on can't get out, what hope do we have? You only have to get one driving wheel to start spinning and you jack-knife.

"I've spent years driving on the the continent in winter, but this is a joke. It's stupid. It's not just the odd truck, it's all of us."

Children in Merthyr Tydfil have been taking their exams in the leisure centre

Rhondda Cynon Taf council said it had been forced to cancel its school transport service for Thursday as well. Around 100 schools across Wales announced they will close on Thursday following 750 closures on Wednesday.

Four flights were affected as Cardiff Airport closed at 2300 GMT on Tuesday but managers managed to re-open at 1130 GMT. Passengers were being advised to check in as normal.

Cardiff Bus said some of its services were affected, including some routes being curtailed or not running.

First Bus said its services in Swansea, Bridgend, Maesteg, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan were disrupted and some early services were suspended.

National Express suspended services from Swansea but they were running again by late morning. In north Wales, a heavy goods vehicle went through a crash barrier on the A55 at Northop.

It affected traffic both ways as it has pushed the barrier into the westbound lane.

A woman was taken to hospital with minor injuries after a crash on the A55 in Hawarden at 1040 GMT.

Firefighters also released a woman who was trapped in her car after it slewed into a wall on a snow-covered road at Boduan, near Pwllheli, at 0500 GMT.

The woman was said to have only minor injuries.

'Extreme care'

Flintshire Council said it had a new supply of grit, but not enough to meet conditions.

"Some of our higher main roads are only passable with extreme care," said a spokesman.

Around 20 Wrexham fans helped move snow from the pitch at the Racecourse ground after the football club looked to avoid an eighth successive postponement.

Meanwhile, police distributed pre-booked food free to the elderly and disabled after a conference for 200 officers was cancelled in Wrexham because of the bad weather.

All of the University of Glamorgan's sites and Uwic campuses in Cardiff were closed.

Glyndwr University in Wrexham has relayed start of the new term by a week.

BBC weather forecaster Derek Brockway said milder weather was likely for the weekend.

As the Rhigos, Maerdy and Bwlch mountain roads have been shut for some considerable time, all traffic to the top end of the Rhondda has to use the same route up the valleys. Add a load of snow as well and result = gridlock. My normal 40 minute journey took me 4 hours until I skidded off the road and ended up catching the train home - and I had left work at 3pm to avoid the traffic !!
Bish, Treorci, RCT

I left work in Cardiff Bay at 4:30pm. I drove through the centre of Cardiff and up the A470. What a mistake! Gridlock the WHOLE way up until Caerphilly. Travelled 6-7 miles in around 3 hours. A470 clear'ish' from Caerphilly to Pontypridd. No route to Graigwen, (both impassible). Had to do the last mile by foot. Got home at 9:30pm. 5 hours to travel 12 miles is no joke. Hope everyone else is safe.
John Richards, Pontypridd, RCT

still snowing rhondda,cars are over the rounderbout in pen y graig nothing moveing no gritting at all being done need anser of the council.
wayne attley, pen y graig rhondda, 07.06 GMT.

i have been affected by this snow bad weather im housebound with diabetes heart disease and neuropathy in my legs and cannot get out for basic foods waiting for a delivery from wiltshire farm foods but i cannot see them coming this wednesday as more snow as fallen no gritters where i live side streets are very poor.back in the last decade we was never left like this ,no help around this area. stephen merthyr tydfil uk
stephen morgan, merthyr tydfil uk

Schools and roads have been closed by fresh snowfall

After recently losing my job, ive been helping the locals tow their cars out on to the cleared roads from the ungritted housing estates using my 4 wheel drive. i've found that a stiff broom and some cheap screenwash works better than grit as it doesn't leave brown sludge.
stu, Cardiff

Having driven back the 3 miles from Caerphilly to my home, the snow wasn't the problem with the traffic. It was drivers who have no understanding of the consequence of stopping their car in the middle of a junction. A large proportion of the gridlock on the 470 can be blamed on careless drivers heading towards caerphilly blocking the junctions near the St Cenydd roundabout and Nantgarw Road. Those 2 junctions block a trunk route from the 470 into Caerphilly and the valleys beyond.
Ian Fearing, Nantgarw, Cardiff

I work in Cardiff Gate and my partner in Llantarnham and we both left work at 5 o'clock tonight to be meet with predominantly stationary traffic eventually I arrived home at 10.15!

I was lucky to get home as at times I thought I would have to leave my car where I stopped.

I would like to send my thanks to all the emergency services people that I saw working trying to keep everyone moving in such dreadful conditions as I believe without them I would still be on the road now!
Mikaela Shayle, Cwm, Ebbw Vale

I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half in Cardiff then my window wipers broke and I had to wait for an hour for breakdown they fixed my window wipers and I then got stuck in traffic on the a470 for a further two and a half hours and then one mile from my boyfriends house my window wipers stopped working again and I had to drive with head out the window until I could get my car to a safe place. It is now on the side of a roundabout because I couldn't get it anywhere else :(
Michelle Ellen, Treforest Pontypridd RCT

I work in Bristol, live near Blackwood,Gwent. I left my office at 5pm today. I was in Risca by 6pm. I arrived home in Blackwood (some 5 miles from Risca) at 10.30pm. I am bound to say that the snow wasn't particularly heavy. We have had much, much worse over the past 15 years. Other countries in Europe and states of North America experience far, far more snow quite frequently. Yet South Wales is ground to a halt. It is little more than pathetic and it was patently obvious that some major roads were not even salted. That is the real story of the "big freeze". The weather is far from extreme. We just aren't prepared for it. I simply don't buy the arguments on salt shortage but even if I'm wrong there is simply no excuse to justify the argument that in 2010 this country is ground to a halt for a little more than 3 inches of snow. The Welsh Assembly should hang its head in shame. I have important business to attend to tomorrow and clients in Bristol who rely on me. Yet I am housebound by a fairly insignificant snow flurry.

Lee Hamer, Blackwood Gwent

We got in at 10.40pm after a nightmare journey , finally having to abandon the car at my in-laws and walk the last 3/4 mile. There was utter chaos. 10 cars abandoned at the bottom of our road, cars left all over the place , on pavements , in the middle of the road , everywhere. My Husband left Pontyclun to come to Bridgend at 3.40; he got gridlocked in Bridgend even before we started our journey home ; it eventually took a total of nearly 7 hours.
Bev Evans , Caerphilly

my work schedule has been severely affected today, tomorrow and actually for the past two weeks....however...not a lot i can do about it so I am enjoying going for walks, playing with the children and making the most of it while i can!
Jerry Widdas, Redwick Monmouthshire

It took a friend 7 hours to get from Newport to Caerphilly last night. I don't understand how the whole country grinds to a halt every time we get snow. Surely we should be learning from previous bouts by now.

Jo Ashley, Cardiff

I work in cardiff and live in cwmbran. What usually takes 20 minutes now the road works are basically done took me and hour and a half. I really don't understand why the traffic had built up so much, as soon as I got off Malpas road in newport I took the back roads in cwmbran to get home as the main roads where just blocked with traffic. The back roads where covered with snow but where easy to pass with care so I am not sure what was wrong on the main roads as they where clear of snow. Knew a few people who got stuck on the A470 for over 5 hours last night.

There is no reason in the day and age that a little snow should bring the country to a standstill.
Michael Smith, Cwmbran

I'm fed up with people moaning about the councils not gritting their roads, haven't they looked at the news, we haven't any. During a normal winter we have a significant amount of salt and our roads are kept clear, unfortunately we have had extreme conditions for the last month, we haven't had this much snow for 20 years, we have used all of our supplies and more. We can't grit if we haven't got salt. My husband works for the local council and he and his colleagues have worked around the clock for the last month, it is very annoying hearing people moaning about the road conditions, when I know our local councils are doing all they can to get more supplies so stop moaning and get on with it.
N Jones, Pontypridd

I left work in Pontypridd at usual time of 4pm, just after the snow started. I didn't expect the roads and traffic to be so bad so quickly. I soon realised that I would be stuck in traffic whichever route I took and after skidding on the fresh snow I made a sensible decision to leave my car safely parked up. I walked and used the train to make my 5 mile journey home. The walk in the fresh snow was lovely! Too dangerous to try driving in this.
Lisa Banfield, Porth, RCT

My daughter attends Bridgend college and travels home on the college bus which leaves campus at 4.00pm. Last night she arrived home at 8.45pm.Her friend from clydach arrived home at 10.40pm. This was a very stressful time for us parents and of course the kids. the networks were so busy it was difficult to keep in contact with them as we tried to reassure them. We were warned the snow would be coming in by 3pm so why didn't the colleges make sure our kids were home safely by then.Stuck on a bus for 5 hours not knowing if you're going to make it home is really distressing for a youngster. Next time we have a heavy snow warning I'll be keeping her home.
s burrows, Tonyrefail R.C.T

I live in Canada and used to live in Brynmawr Gwent. The difference is in Canada we are geared up to get snow regardless.Wales councils hope it doesnt snow.

We plough the roads as it falls and then salt/grit it.Rarely is traffic disrupted.

Usually by the evening the salt has dried the road.Some Munincipalites use liquid spray which stops the snow by melting it as it hits the road.
graham.barnes, Burlington Ontario Canada

Lorry drivers need teaching how to drive in an appropriate manner in these appalling weather conditions. I had only driven a mile past the jack-knifed lorry on the A55 this morning when a lorry driver tried to intimidate me into going faster than 50mph by driving too close behind me. When he/she realised I would not he pulled out into the snow/slush filled outer lane and overtook me, filling my windscreen with slush. I couldn't see through it even with high speed wipers, when I could, I flashed my headlights to show my annoyance to the him/her. Another lorry behind me (must have been his/her buddy driving) then overtook me, but then pulled back into my lane before the lorry had got fully past me, forcing me to brake hard, and on ice! ...this was just a mile after they had passed one of their colleagues in a ditch! They obviously think it is every lorry/truck drivers right to drive in a criminal and unsafe manner! That is why so many lorrys crash in these conditions!

Terry, Old Colwyn

Now we see the folly of ripping up the railways all those years ago. Abergavenny-Merthyr was closed on the grounds no-one travelled from Abergavenny to Merthyr then millions spent on the Heads of the Valleys road so motorists can do just that. Likewise the line to Blaenavon was closed and that route now needs a bus every 10 minutes. And if the Pontypridd Caerphilly & Newport line was still there many journeys would be quicker and safer than by car.
J C Sadler, Newport

I work in caerphilly. I left at 4 30 last night...took me 2 hours just to move a couple of hundreds yards. total gridlock. I abandoned my car and walked to train station got home 8;45...the councils have had days to prepare yet no roads gritted out of caerphilly yesterday.
nicola hughes, abercynon rct

Traffic news says A470 Merthyr-Brecon closed but we`ve still got loads of sightseers heading up to Storey Arms with ski`s and snow boards strapped to their roof racks!
A Thomas , Llwyn-Onn Merthyr Tydfil

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