Snow ploughs had to free stranded motorists on Haldon Hill
Page updated: 22:30, Tuesday 12 January 2010
Thousands of motorists are stranded in freezing conditions on the A38 at Haldon Hill near Exeter.
The motorists have been stuck since heavy snow fell late on Tuesday afternoon.
The stretch of the A38 was closed by the police to deal with the incident and people were told to stay with their cars.
It's the second time this has happened at Haldon Hill in 12 months - the same thing occurred in February 2009.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said at 22:15 on Tuesday night that there was, finally, some "steady" movement on the eastbound carriageway of the A38 but the situation on the westbound carriageway was "not so good."
He said tractors had been brought in to help tow the cars up the hill on the westbound lanes. He added that agency vehicles had been out earlier in the day but the snowfalls had been too ferocious.
Emergency services at the incident at Haldon Hill
An emergency rescue centre was opened at Chudleigh Town Hall. Devon County Council said social care staff were co-ordinating local volunteers and voluntary sector representatives to provide a warm shelter with blankets and refreshments.
A spokesman said the council was working closely with the police, Highways Agency and other emergency services to clear the road with snow ploughs, gritters and tractors in operation.
Exeter Racecourse at Haldon Hill also opened its doors to help people who could reach them.
Conference and events manager Michelle Thomas was herself stranded: "I had to abandon my car on the A380 and I walked back here.
"We are open as a rescue centre and at the moment three people have been brought to us - it's difficult for people to get to us."
That was at 21.30, but she was expecting more to arrive once news spread that the course had opened up: "The conditions aren't getting any better and the snow is still falling.
"We are waiting to learn what decision is made by the highways people about what to do next. But we've got hot drinks and snacks for people."
One of the motorists caught up in the gridlock, Rob, telephoned BBC Radio Devon's Vic Morgan programme: "This has been predicted for three days - why weren't the snow ploughs out there?"
Traffic at Telegraph Hill came to a standstill
Many other roads have also been blocked across Devon during the latest snowfall.
One of the major roads badly affected during Tuesday evening rush hour was the A380 at Telegraph Hill - the main road into South Devon.
The B3212 between Dousland and B3357 Tavistock Road in Yelverton was also blocked both ways due to snow.
Flights were cancelled at Plymouth Airport on Tuesday afternoon, as snow hit the western end of Devon.
The snow arrived in Devon at lunchtime, with the west and south of the county first in the firing line.
The snow then moved to north and east Devon and is set to continue during Tuesday night.
The Met Office has warned that falls of five to 10cm are expected widely, with 10 to 20cm possible locally.
There is a low risk of up to 30cm over higher ground and the strengthening south-easterly wind is also likely to lead to drifting of snow.
Gritters were out near Princetown on Dartmoor
With heavy snow forecast - especially on higher ground - Devon County Council said it has sent gritters out on key roads.
A spokesman said that all of the primary network - nearly 1,700 miles of roads including A and B roads - will be treated as required during Tuesday night, as road temperatures are again set to drop below freezing.
The council has again advised parents to contact schools directly on Wednesday morning to see if they are open. Parents should also contact their local school transport operator for information on Wednesday morning, or to listen to local radio.
This page has links to key services - see below.
You have been sending in some wonderful photographs, showing how the snow has affected all parts of Devon - a huge thank you to everyone who has emailed us pictures, helping us to reflect conditions in the county.
We have made three galleries (so far!) and will use as many as we possibly can.
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