Storm Darcy: Heavy snow forces vaccine centres to shut as ‘Beast from the East II’ hits UK

Severe weather brings widespread disruption to Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent

Peter Stubley
Monday 08 February 2021 01:41
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'Beast from the East II' hits UK with ice and snow

Heavy snow and blizzard conditions forced the closure of vaccination centres as the so-called "Beast from the East II" hit the southeast of England.

The severe weather - which also caused widespread disruption to road and rail networks across the area - is expected to continue into Monday afternoon.

Police forces in Essex, Kent and Norfolk urged motorists to avoid travelling on Sunday while Southeastern trains announced several routes in Kent would remain closed until Tuesday.

Hundreds of homes in Suffolk experienced power cuts as temperatures plunged below freezing.

The cold weather is a result of bitter easterly winds from Russia and Scandinavia combining with a weather front named Storm Darcy by the Dutch meteorological office.

Up to 30cm of snow could fall in parts of the southeast, according to the Met Office, while strong winds with gusts of up to 55mph are expected to batter the coast overnight.

An amber weather warning remains in force in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent until 12pm on Monday, while yellow weather warnings for snow and ice are in place across the length of Britain until around midday on Wednesday.

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert for the whole of England through to Wednesday and urged people to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or those who have serious illnesses.

Dr Owen Landeg, of PHE, said: "Cold weather isn't just uncomfortable, it can have a serious impact on health.

"For older people and those with heart and lung problems, it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections."

Heavy rain also affected parts of the country, with flooding of some streets and homes in Leeds. A total of 37 flood warnings and 158 less serious flood alerts remained in force in England on Sunday night. The Environment Agency said local flooding was expected on parts of the Lower River Severn and River Thames over the next five days.

Patients whose vaccinations have been cancelled because of the closure of clinics due to the weather have been urged to re-book their appointments.

All five vaccination centres run by a GP federation in Suffolk will remain closed on Monday because of the snow, along with NHS sites in Essex at Clacton Hospital and Colchester United's football stadium.

Many other centres are expected to remain open as normal but Essex Partnership University NHS Trust urged people not to take unnecessary risks, adding: "If you would prefer not to travel in poor weather conditions, you can rearrange your appointment."

Meteorologists have given differing opinions over the use of the term "Beast from the East II", which has now been widely adopted.

Sarah Kent from the Met Office said: "The easterly winds originate from Ukraine and the Black Sea so the air will be cold but it will not be as bitingly cold as it was back in 2018."

BBC Weather forecaster Billy Payne said: "It qualifies as a Beast from the East in my view - although it's not 'Beast from the East Two' since we've had a number of cold easterly spells over the years."

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