Arctic conditions pull down power lines and cause havoc on the roads

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The Independent Online

Householders in northern Scotland who spent much of yesterday without electricity, bore the brunt of arctic conditions last night, with anticipated temperatures of -8C.

Householders in northern Scotland who spent much of yesterday without electricity, bore the brunt of arctic conditions last night, with anticipated temperatures of -8C.

A spokesman for Scottish Hydro-Electric said falling snow and ice had made it difficult for engineers to reach the collapsed power lines that cut off supplies to1,000 homes in the Highlands.

After a -9C Saturday night chill in the Cairngorms and -5C in Dundee, meteorologists warned that temperatures would again fall to between -5C and -8C across many parts of inland Britain last night. Scotland, where settled snow was keeping temperatures down, was again facing the worst of it.

Revellers preparing for Hogmanay were warned that sub-zero temperatures would persist over the next few days, following on from snowdrifts and blizzards which have caused widespread chaos.

In the Lothians yesterday, fire and ambulance crews were searching for a 19-year-old man who was believed to be trapped beneath the frozen water at Harlaw reservoir near Balerno.

One of Scotland's largest dance events, the Christmas Glam Party hosted by DJs Judge Jules and Dave Pearce at the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre, was also cancelled due to bad weather. But there was better news for skiers as the reopening of the A93 at Glenshee restored access to the slopes.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland was reeling from heavy snow falls and winds which left 2,000 homes without power at one point. The snow also shifted into North-east England from the North Sea, as well as affecting north-west England, Wales and the Midlands.

But the most perilous driving conditions were reserved for the south of England, where there was a combination of black ice and blinding sun.

One motorist died after crashing near Mevagissey in Cornwall yesterday morning – the second fatality in the current cold snap.

In Hampshire, police dealt with more than 80 separate crashes within five hours and officers described yesterday as one of their worst ever days for road accidents.

Inspector Ian Johnson said: "People have been trapped and injured in cars and vans which are upside down and in ditches all over the place."

The Basingstoke ring road was closed after ice turned it into a skating rink. There were also 19 accidents on a single three-mile stretch of the A3 in Surrey yesterday morning.

The last snow showers were expected to die off in the first half of last night to leave a dry morning today though the minimal amount of cloud cover, leaving clear skies, is expected to keep the UK bitterly cold. More cloud and winds are not expected until Wednesday.

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