Snow showers close schools and drifts block roads on the first day of spring

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The Independent Online

The first day of spring was greeted with snow showers and sub-zero temperatures across southern England and Wales yesterday, causing problems for motorists in several regions.

The first day of spring was greeted with snow showers and sub-zero temperatures across southern England and Wales yesterday, causing problems for motorists in several regions.

Drivers were warned to take extra care on the roads after parts of the country were hit by severe snowfall amid temperatures around 10C below the seasonal norm.

Temperatures as low as minus 1C (30F) were recorded in Exmoor and the wind chill factor was making it feel between minus 6C (21F) and minus 8C (18F) across southern England.

A snowplough got stuck in drifting snow as Devon was hit by snow, hail, high winds and torrential rain. The unseasonal conditions were worst in North Devon and Exmoor, where some roads had to be closed by the snowfall and drifting.

A spokeswoman for the RAC said heavy snow flurries in Somerset, Hampshire and West Sussex had made visibility bad on some roads. Motorists were urged to use only major roads, and not smaller lanes, as they were more likely to have been gritted.

In South Wales, police warned motorists to avoid all non-essential journeys and children were sent home early from school. Around 10cm of snow had fallen over the Brecon Beacons yesterday and more was expected overnight, although it was due to turn to rain by this morning.

Children at schools in Blaenavon, in the South Wales valleys, were sent home early as their schools were closed due to the snowfall.

A meteorological spokesman said: "The temperatures are quite low for this time of year - the average is usually around 11C (52F) to 12C (54F)."

London saw a smattering of snow but a couple of inches fell south of the Thames and in Wales.

Scotland and Northern Ireland enjoyed sunny but cold weather. But the cold snap was expected to push north last night, bringing snow to central areas of the country and then to Scotland.

The spokesman said: "It has been colder but the conditions are not that unusual for the time of year. In fact snow is more likely at Easter then it is at Christmas."

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