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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own