Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. CHARLES DICKENS, BLEAK HOUSE

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The Independent Online
Joggers ran into Dickensian fog in Hyde Park, London, yesterday as weather conditions all over Britain deteriorated. Freezing fog and black ice brought chaos to roads across southern and central England, with hundreds of minor accidents.

Visibility in many places was down to less than 100 yards and in some spots it was as little as 15 yards. An Automobile Association spokeswoman said: "We have seen a spate of accidents, mostly caused by drivers travelling too fast."

The main problem area was in south-east England around London, although southern England, the Midlands, south Wales and the West Country were also badly affected.

On the M40 just outside London, the south-bound carriageway was brought to a virtual standstill after more than 10 separate accidents, one of which involved eight vehicles, with a tailback of 15 miles at one point. According to the London Weather Centre, similar problems were likely on the roads this morning.

Rush for the sun, page 4

Photograph: Greg Bos