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2000: Freezing Britain grinds to a halt

VIDEO : The day the sea froze over

A blanket of snow has descended on the country as Arctic conditions wreak havoc on roads, rail and air services.

Sub-zero temperatures, as low as -13C in parts of the Midlands and freezing fog are adding to the misery for travellers, with visibility reduced to 100 metres in places.

It is the first significant widespread snowfall in Britain for seven years with overnight temperatures falling to their lowest for more than ten years.

Northern Ireland has seen the worst snow fall in 18 years.

London was covered in snow for the first time since 1994 and the Millennium wheel was brought to a halt because of ice.

While parts of Devon, Cardiff and Cumbria were covered in one inch of snow, up to six inches fell in Wales.

Accidents

Forecasters predict the cold weather will continue to make driving conditions treacherous and bring further disruption to public transport.

Police and transport chiefs are warning people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

There have already been several accidents on roads, delays to trains and London Underground and many motorways are reduced to one lane.

Motorists on the M11 and M1 have seen speed limits of 30mph in places.

Gritting lorries were sent out from 0430 GMT to combat black ice and drifting snow.

Many drivers have been forced to abandon their cars on roads due to the bad weather and the Automobile Association announced it dealt with 1,300 breakdowns an hour yesterday.

Two days ago the RAC dealt with 12,000 breakdowns - twice the normal number for the time of year.

Airports at Stansted, Luton, Glasgow and Liverpool closed because their runways were covered in snow.

A powerful cold weather front known as The Snowplough has been pushing snow in a loop across Scandinavia, Scotland and Ireland down over England towards France, covering the whole of Britain for the first time in six years.

In Context
Britain thawed slowly following the freak heavy snowfall as many struggled to cope with cars unable to work and heating problems.

Forecasters said Britain's winters were traditionally getting warmer.

But there were similar freezing conditions 12 months later with many people waking up to a heavy layer of ice in the new year.

The coldest temperature of 2000 was still higher than that of early 2002 which was at Sennybridge in Powys, Wales where the thermometer hit -12C on New Year's Day.


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