Snow: travel chaos with flights and trains cancelled, roads closed, 36 hours of blizzards and 10,000 without electricity across Britain

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Strong winds mean blizzards – and the big freeze lingers into next week

Motorists were stranded in cars across the UK today as heavy snowfall left thousands of people without power, closed schools and caused widespread disruption across the travel network.

Click here or on the image above to view the gallery

As much of the country lay under a thick white covering, breakdown companies said they were struggling to reach drivers who ventured out despite being warned to make only essential journeys.

In Wales, put on “red alert” by the Met Office, blizzards closed dozens of roads and left 10,000 householders across a variety of locations without electricity, though supply was restored later in the day to 5,000. The highest flurries were recorded in Powys; where 25cm snow fell in Sennybridge.

Elsewhere, in some English regions, the covering reached 10cm. Frantic scenes were reported in shops in Wales, the West Country and the Home Counties as shoppers fearing shortages panic bought. Scotland escaped the heaviest snow, which drifted down steadily throughout the day in an oblong block ranging from Belfast to Brighton.

More than 2,000 schools across the UK closed, including 1,200 in Wales, 700 schools in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire, 500 in Hampshire, and 300 in Norfolk. Dozens more took similar action and some FE colleges delayed A-level exams, to the delight of some students.

In Wrightington, Lancashire, a 16-year-old girl was airlifted to hospital with serious head and back injuries after a snowboarding accident.

Most airports managed to keep flights open, but 405 flights were cancelled at Heathrow, while Birmingham and Southampton were closed for most of the day. There was also disruption at London City, Jersey, Belfast, Exeter, Leeds/Bradford and Bristol airports.

Eurostar cancelled four trains between London and Brussels while South West Trains, East Midlands, Greater Anglia and Southern companies ran amended timetables.

Many drivers heeded calls by motoring organisations to stay at home. Those who strayed out often regretted the decision. Despite the efforts of Highways Agency snowploughs and blowers to clear major route, jack-knifed lorries, other crashes and treacherous conditions caused long delays.

Dozens of A-roads were closed in Wales and the Midlands and there were snarl-ups on the M25 in Hertfordshire, Essex and Surrey; the M4 in Berkshire; the M3 in Surrey; the M1 in Leicestershire, the M6 and the M54 in Staffordshire. The Severn Bridge was shut and Cardiff city centre became a sludgy bumper-to-bumper convoy of commuters.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said reaching stranded motorists was a “real challenge”. By the end of the day, the AA expected to attend around 11,000 call-outs, compared with 9,500 on an average Friday.

But the snow pleased some: pictures posted on the internet showed a few brightly-coloured adventurers joyously skiing down Park Street in Bristol. Ironically, the bad weather also forced the closure of Telford’s artificial ski slope.

In a poll for ITV News, 83 per cent of people said travel was too often disrupted by bad weather and 90 per cent felt train, bus and airport operators should be better prepared. But they should have fewer complaints this weekend, as forecasters predict the snow will ease off, with only light flurries – though heavier snowfalls are expected in Scotland.

Frank Saunders, Met Office chief forecaster, said: “Although some further slight snowfalls are likely, with 1cm to 2cm of fresh snow in a few places, the focus switches to ice, with temperatures staying below zero over snow cover for many areas.

“The public should be aware of the risk of localised disruption to transport during this spell of wintry weather.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Store Manager & Store Supervisor

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Case Liaison Officer / Administrator

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist based in Rochest...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific