Britain braced for freezing temperatures

 

Parts of Britain face freezing temperatures today after winter weather brought major disruption to parts of the country.

Thousands of homes in the North East and Yorkshire were left without power yesterday as engineers worked round the clock to restore electricity.

Motorways jammed up with snow and ice brought down power lines after strong winds and snow combined to cause 7ft drifts on exposed higher ground.

Forecasters said the bad weather would not continue but temperatures would be bitterly cold.

Gemma Plumb, forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the mercury plunged to -7C in Braemar in Aberdeenshire, while Ravensworth in North Yorkshire saw a temperature of -4C and Crosby in Merseyside felt the cold with a temperature of -1C.

"We will be waking up to a frost, with very cold temperatures overnight and maximum temperatures of just seven to 10C during the day."

Tomorrow night temperatures will drop to -3C and -4C in the Midlands, East Anglia, southern England and Wales.

"It will feel particularly cold across central and southern England and Wales with a brisk north-easterly wind during the morning.

"It will be less cold further north," she said.

Ms Plumb said remaining snow and sleet was dying away across high ground of the West Midlands and Wales and there would be no new snowfall during the day after Britain experienced summer then winter in the space of a week.

Electricity suppliers Northern Powergrid said 25,000 customers across Northumberland, west County Durham, the North Yorkshire Moors and West Yorkshire were without power at one point yesterday afternoon.

By 8.30pm that number had fallen to 8,000 and the company said on Twitter: "Work will continue until all customers affected by severe weather have been restored.

"We appreciate the patience of all customers affected by the heaviest April snowfall in our region for the last 30 years."

In the Peak District, 1,500 homes were cut off, Western Power Distribution said.

Around 90,000 homes across northern England suffered power cuts since the bad weather arrived on Tuesday afternoon.

Between six and eight inches of snow fell in high parts of the Peak District, Pennines and Cumbria overnight, while trees were felled on higher ground as the Arctic front which battered Scotland yesterday began to move south to the Midlands and Wales.

The April snow caused tricky driving conditions and forced the closure of trans-Pennine routes.

Long delays in both directions between Leeds and Manchester caused frustration to thousands of motorists on the M62 after vehicles became stuck on the icy carriageway.

On the A68 between Tow Law and Castleside, County Durham, 40 vehicles were stranded overnight and on the A66 two families were rescued from their cars and sheltered at Barnard Castle police station.

Spotter helicopters are combing the countryside to find snow-damaged power lines which have left hundreds cut off.

More than 1,000 homes remain without power after wintry storms felled overhead electricity cables.

Engineers have been working round the clock to repair damage caused by gales, ice and snow which brought major disruption to many parts of the country.

Snow plough drivers are clearing blocked roads as deep snow on higher ground begins to thaw.

But meteorologists have warned people to prepare for further sub-zero temperatures ahead.

Gemma Plumb, forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said today would see highs of just seven to 10C, and that temperatures were set to plummet overnight.

"Tomorrow night temperatures will drop to -3C and -4C in the Midlands, East Anglia, southern England and Wales.

"It will feel particularly cold across central and southern England and Wales with a brisk north-easterly wind during the morning.

"It will be less cold further north," she said.

Last night, the mercury plunged to -7C in Braemar in Aberdeenshire, while Ravensworth in North Yorkshire saw a temperature of -4C and Crosby in Merseyside felt the cold with a temperature of -1C.

Engineers have restored the power to approximately 78,000 properties in the North East and Yorkshire since power cuts struck on Tuesday night.

The number of properties still without power now stands at 1,700, a Northern Powergrid spokesman said.

Spotter helicopters are searching the North Yorkshire Moors and parts of County Durham to find the remaining damaged lines.

A spokesman said: "Engineers are on site throughout the area and the spotter helicopter is being deployed once again to help locate the damaged overhead power lines.

"We would like to apologise to those customers still experiencing power supply problems and to reassure them our engineers are working as hard as possible to restore supplies as soon as possible."

The remaining snow and sleet has begun to thaw across high ground in the West Midlands and Wales.

No new snowfall is expected today.

PA

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