Storm Deirdre: Snow and freezing rain cause major disruption across UK and Ireland

Drivers advised not to travel 'unless absolutely necessary'

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 15 December 2018 10:43
UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

The UK and Ireland were hit by freezing rain and icy conditions on Saturday, as a cold front caused disruption on one of the last big shopping days before Christmas.

Storm Deirdre, an area of westwards moving low pressure, brought disruptive and damaging gusts with persistent and heavy rain to Ireland.

Thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity as a significant number of electricity faults were reported in Cork in the south, and there was some disruption to supplies in Co Waterford in the southeast.

The Irish forecaster Met Eireann issued an orange alert for the whole country.

"The good thing is that Deirdre is expected to clear out the cold air and become much milder across the weekend," said Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge.

The Met Office confirmed the rare weather phenomenon of black ice had been reported at Leeds Bradford Airport, with worsening conditions expected.

A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport said the weekend's weather had not delayed any flights.

Freezing rain has also been falling in parts of southern Scotland and the North East, the Met Office said.

Collisions and road closures have been reported by police forces across England after heavy snow, ice, strong winds and rain were forecast across Saturday and Sunday.

Three amber and four yellow weather warnings have been issued covering almost the entirety of the country.

Only London and the South East are not facing an alert, but are still due to receive some heavy rain.

"We are expecting heavy snow in the heart of Scotland," said Mark Wilson, a meteorologist at the Met Office. "Around 20cm worth, especially across high ground."

Snow was also reported to have fallen in parts of central Scotland.

Wintry showers may also fall further south as temperatures drop, with highs of 2C forecast for Birmingham and 4C for London.

"The snow warning is particularly for Scotland but freezing rain further south is much more unusual," said Mr Wilson.

"That can turn to ice very quickly and we expect it to cause major travel disruption on the roads and trains."

Snow in Scotland in March 2018 (file photo)

"I would advise drivers in areas affected by freezing rain to avoid travelling unless absolutely necessary," said Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the Met Office.

“It turns into black ice very quickly, which people won’t be prepared for as they can’t see it.”

Freezing rain occurs when snow melts as it falls, turning into rain and drizzle which then refreezes.

“Councils may struggle to grit roads during the day and we are expecting travel disruption because it will be a busy shopping day, with Christmas coming," said Ms Maxey.

The ice may also cause power and telephone cables to snap.

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"If you're not under a snow and ice warning you're probably under a wind and rain warning," Mr Partridge added.

Conditions are forecast to improve slightly on Sunday, with sunshine and showers arriving in Britain after a cold, icy start.

Temperatures will also recover, with Birmingham and Manchester expected to see highs of 7C.

Londoners may even enjoy temperatures of up to 9C.

The southeast might see some patchy fog and ice on Monday morning,” said Ms Maxey. “But the start of next week is looking more settled.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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