Disruption fears as snow is forecast

 

Up to four inches (10cm) of snow is expected to fall in parts of
England and Wales overnight raising fears of widespread disruption to
the roads and railways.

Forecasters said the freezing weather was set to continue for the next few days, with temperatures expected to plummet to -8C (18F) over the weekend.

The cold spell has already led to a string of road accidents, with 100 reported in Cumbria alone today.

And charities have warned that elderly people are among the most vulnerable in the freezing conditions.

Age UK director general Michelle Mitchell said more than a third of over-65s fall each year, with snow and ice posing a particular risk.

She said: "Winter can be a dangerous time for older people particularly with the current plummeting temperatures.

"Low temperatures raise blood pressure which puts people at a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes as well as increasing the likelihood and severity of flu and other respiratory problems.

"During this period of cold weather, we would urge people to check on their older relatives or neighbours to ensure they are warm and have plenty of food.

"We would also encourage people to be good neighbours and clear pathways of snow and ice, if they are able to help older people stay safe."

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) said train companies were gearing up to deal with the bad weather, with Network Rail running empty 'ghost' trains and de-icer units to keep tracks and overhead cables free of snow and ice as far as possible.

He added: "The whole industry will be working hard to get people from A to B as quickly and reliably as possible."

Martin Young, chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: "We are expecting some snow across parts of the country overnight and into Friday.

"Whilst there is uncertainty about where the heaviest snow will be, we expect a covering of 1cm to 5cm of snow in many areas and possibly up to 10cm in the worst affected regions of perhaps the Midlands and south east Wales.

"As a result there could be some disruption to travel."

Chris Burton, forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said snow was forecast to fall in Yorkshire, the Midlands, central southern England, western parts of East Anglia and London.

He said: "Tomorrow, with cloudy skies, temperatures won't drop too low but it will be generally freezing across most of England with lows of -1C (30F) or -2C (28F).

"It will struggle to get above freezing in parts of East Anglia but it will get up to 1C (34F) or 2C (36F) in England."

He said London should expect more than an inch (2-3cm) of snow overnight, while the Midlands would get the heaviest covering.

Snow was already falling this evening in the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

Mr Burton added: "It will be a very cold night on Friday as the cloud will have cleared so it will get down to -7C (19F) or -8C (18F) in some parts."

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council warned that road conditions were expected to remain hazardous for the next 24 hours, describing the freezing rain falling on the ground as a "perfect storm".

She added: "Although air temperatures have risen above freezing in many places, ground temperatures remain below zero, causing the rain to freeze on the ground and create patches of black ice.

"Drivers are being urged to avoid travelling unless absolutely necessary."

Six vehicles also collided in freezing conditions on the Felling bypass in Gateshead, Tyneside, this morning and drivers were trapped after a crash in Gateshead at the junction of the A194 and the A1 southbound.

One man was taken to hospital after being knocked over a barrier as several vehicles collided in the ice on the Blaydon Highway flyover, Tyneside, at around 6.45am. His condition was said to be stable.

Meanwhile, it emerged that a man is thought to have drowned trying to rescue his dog from a freezing pond at the weekend.

Classic car enthusiast Tim Waddingham, 53, was pulled from a pond at Wildwood Golf and Country Club, in Horsham Road, Cranleigh, Surrey, at about 4pm on Sunday, a Surrey Police spokesman said.

Mr Waddingham's dog was found by the lake at the nine-acre course by members of the emergency services. A post-mortem examination showed his cause of death was drowning.

North West Ambulance Service said its control centres had answered almost 700 emergency calls since 8am today.

The emergency service had also responded to 187 incidents where patients had fallen.

A Network Rail spokesman added: "We are working closely with the forecasters and train operators to track the weather system across the country and put plans into action to run the best possible train service for passengers."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'