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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works