Road chaos as cold sets in for weekend

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The Independent Online
The cold weather affecting Britain created more chaos on the country's roads and railways yesterday as weather forecasters predicted temperatures would drop further.

Although no new snowfalls are expected, weathermen warned freezing fog was likely to affect much of the country, making driving conditions treacherous.

A spokesman for the London Weather Centre warned of freezing temperatures as low as minus 5C (23F).

"We have had some snow showers in various parts of the country but it is coming to an end. By tomorrow no fresh snow is likely for a few days.

"The next problem will be freezing fog. There will be some tonight, in eastern and central England, and in Northern Ireland. It will be a real problem especially on Saturday when there will be areas of freezing fog and cold weather," he said.

The south of England took the brunt of the bad weather yesterday with parts of the coastal region being turned into a "skating rink", according to the AA motoring organisation.

Driving conditions became appalling on several major roads in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex, with black ice and more heavy snow, it said.

Affected routes included the M20 and A21 in Kent, the M27 in Hampshire and the A259 in Hastings, East Sussex, where snow forced several motorists to abandon their vehicles.

By 4pm yesterday the AA said it had had rescued 16,500 motorists, with flat batteries and frozen cooling systems mostly to blame.

The RAC said it had dealt with 14,000 emergency calls in a 12-hour period yesterday.

"Approximately a third of those were in London and the Home Counties, where we have been extremely busy," a spokesman said. Motorists were advised not to go out without a blanket and hot flask.