Flood warning follows snow chaos as drivers spend the night stranded on the M6 motorway

A mountain rescue team had to dig an ambulance out of snow overnight

Extreme weather continues in the north of England, with sudden snowfall blocking roads overnight, and a mountain rescue team having to dig an ambulance out of snow.

And rain forecast for today means that flooding may follow.

Snow forced drivers to a standstill on the M6 last night in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 in Lancashire.

Many got stranded between Wigan and Standish after struggling with inclines in the dangerous conditions, while a number of accidents including jack-knifed lorries also blocked lanes.

The M56 and M58 which were also blocked.

Conservative MP for Morecambe & Lunesdale David Morris, who was stuck on the southbound carriageway, told Sky News: "We've ground to a halt on both sides. Nothing is really moving.

"But the emergency services have been fantastic and are doing the best for us, and everyone is in good spirits.

"I've just seen a snowball fight and the man next door to me has built a snowman on top of his car roof - it's very surreal."

Kevin Collister, who was stuck on the motorway just past the M58 junction heading northbound, told Sky News: "There is absolutely no movement whatsoever on my side of the carriageway, all the snow is squashed down into ice and there are wagons trying to move and sliding sideways.

Lancashire Police has since said traffic is now moving on the roads, but they remain heavily congested with long tailbacks. 

Chief Inspector Mike Adamson said: "We realised at about 11pm last night that this was going to be a major incident.

"Some of the drivers and passengers have been stuck for hours - it has been a very difficult night for them.

"We have set up a command centre at Charnock Services, where officers have collected hot drinks and taken them to those who are stuck."

Some drivers passed the time with snowball fights and building snowmen, while others abandoned their cars completely.

A spokesman for The Highway Agency urged those who had abandoned their cars to return to them as soon as possible.

He said: "The snowfall was very sudden and very heavy - over a foot in some places - causing cars to become stranded.

"But we have managed to get through the traffic and clear most routes to get people moving again.

"We are urging those who have abandoned their cars to collect, all we can do is move them to the side for now but it makes it difficult to clear routes.

"With the rain falling and ice melting onto very cold road surfaces, we are now warning drivers of the danger of ice."

One man had to be taken to hospital by Lancashire Police after becoming ill in his stranded car, and North Yorkshire Fire Service said a husband and wife had to be rescued from a snow drift on the North York Moors around 7.30pm after a breakdown company refused to attend.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "Due to extreme weather conditions a husband and wife had driven into a snow drift and were unable to get out.

"The wife had undergone surgery a week before and they had tried to dig themselves out for over two hours."

Meanwhile all flights have been suspended at Leeds Bradford International Airport this morning as a fresh blanket of snow covered most of the Yorkshire region, and bus services were suspended in a number of towns in West Yorkshire yesterday evening, including in Halifax and Keighley.

The country is now braced for flooding as heavy rain moves in and rising temperatures spark a rapid thaw of the snow and ice that has built up over the last two weeks.

Chris Burton, a forecaster for the Press Association's weather division, said temperatures could rise to around 8C today before reaching more than 10C in the south tomorrow, followed by wet and windy weather next week.

He said: "Heavy rain will fall across most parts of Britain tonight and into tomorrow morning.

"The worst affected areas will be the west of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which will see up to an inch of rain overnight.

"Combined with rapid melting snow it brings a risk of localised flooding."

The Met Office currently has ice warnings in place across the UK, with the exception of the south-west of England and Wales, urging drivers and pedestrians to take care.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most