Ski enthusiasts make the most of snowfall, but thaw is coming

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The Independent Online

Skiers and snowboarders are looking forward this weekend to some of the best conditions they have experienced in Britain for several years, despite forecasts of an easing of the cold snap.

Skiers and snowboarders are looking forward this weekend to some of the best conditions they have experienced in Britain for several years, despite forecasts of an easing of the cold snap.

In Scotland, all five resorts are expected to have all runs in use, with centres such as Aviemore reporting "excellent" snow on the slopes and some powdered pistes. In northern England, the east coast has fared better than the west. Harwood Ski Federation at Harwood Common in County Durham was anticipating a "very good" day of sport with both tow-lifts in operation today. At Weardale Ski Club skiers have been warned to use 4x4s or snow chains before approaching the ski area. In the Lake District, clubs are facing a weekend of disappointment after Cumbria missed out on fresh falls. With less than an inch of snow on the hills, the ski lifts are not expected to operate.

But the generous helping of snow in other areas prompted a spokeswoman for the British Ski Club to say: "Conditions are excellent. This is some of the best snow we have seen for several years."

Travellers faced a different story yesterday after snow blanketed parts of southern England. British Airways was forced to cancel 10 per cent of its flights from Heathrow. A spokeswoman said passengers on board all 54 short-haul flights would be offered a refund, re-route or rebooking.

Conditions on the roads eased but gritting lorries were expected be out last night to keep motorway routes open. The Highways Agency reported "normal winter conditions" on the road networks. Some roads did remain closed, including the A686 in Cumbria, A689 in West Yorkshire, and A640 in Huddersfield. The A66 which runs across England from Cumbria to Teesside reopened yesterday after being closed for two nights. Train services were running almost as normal, Network Rail said.

Many schools across the country remained closed with some pupils enjoying an unexpected day off in Kent, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Norfolk, Surrey and Lancashire. A PA Weather Centre spokesman said the cold snap was expected to continue into next week, with a further risk of snow. Spring could be delayed until the middle of March, he said. "There is still some snow here and there in parts of England, mainly in the southern half.

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