Freeze brings more transport misery in UK

Frozen Britain will endure another Arctic blast of snow and ice today as sub-zero temperatures bring more chaos to public transport, motorways and commuters.

Frozen Britain will endure another Arctic blast of snow and ice today as sub-zero temperatures bring more chaos to public transport, motorways and commuters.

Two major airports – Edinburgh and London Gatwick – remained closed this morning as the country endures what forecasters have described as one of the coldest starts to December on record.

Up to 20cm (8in) of fresh snowfall is expected to fall on the east of England according to weather experts, with London and the southeast also being hit by more blizzards.

Temperatures across the UK will struggle to break zero today, but experts offered some respite, predicting that the wintry weather will ease off tomorrow.

Forecaster David Price, from The Met Office, said: “It will continue to be very cold for most of the country today and in terms of snow it will be a very similar picture to yesterday.

“Showers will be pushing in from the North East coast and across Northern England all the way through to the east coast.

“A band of snow will continue to affect South East England, with the Home Counties, Kent, Surrey and London all experiencing between 2cm and 5cm of snowfall. Southern counties and Devon will also have snow.”

In England, the Met Office has issued severe warnings of heavy snow in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, the East, the south west and London and the South East.

Temperatures fell to minus 18.6C in the Scottish Highlands last night, with warnings also applying to Grampian, Strathclyde, Central, Tayside and Fife and South West, Lothian and Borders.

Mr Price said there is likely to be large amounts of snow on the ground today, as fresh falls add to already high levels.

However, he predicted an ease in snowfall tonight and said that for most, tomorrow would start off as a “fine” day.

“Tomorrow the snow showers will be more confined to coastal regions and we will be losing the strong North East winds so less snow will be pushing inland,” he added.

“However, a band of snow and freezing sleet will push in from the west coast tomorrow evening and head inland.”

Gatwick Airport will remained closed all day today due to the severe weather conditions, with officials warning it will not re-open until at least 6am tomorrow.

A spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to resume operations, however conditions have deteriorated considerably. Our teams are working around the clock to make the runway safe for aircraft to use and get our airlines and passengers flying again.”

Edinburgh airport was also closed this morning, but staff were hopeful the runway would reopen at 10am.

Hampshire Police issued a warning to motorists as heavy snow fell overnight.

HGV drivers were warned avoid the A3 and treacherous conditions were also reported on the A3M.

The M3 was also closed northbound at junction 9 because of a jack-knifed lorry and the M27 was reduced to one lane between junctions 5 and 7.

In Kent, police asked drivers to avoid the M20 after closing the slip roads at Junctions 8, 9 and 10 of the coastbound carriageway due to blizzard conditions and freezing temperatures.

Forces in Essex and Sussex also advised people to only make essential trips as snow fell throughout the night.

Surrey Police told drivers to only use roads in an emergency after declaring all roads in the county treacherous.

Despite gritters working throughout the early hours, its said main roads including the A3, M25, A22, A217 and A31 were “dangerously” affected by the blizzards.

Widespread ice caused major problems nationwide yesterday, with the AA attending more than 11,300 breakdowns. The RAC also saw call volumes rise to unprecedented levels for this time of year.

In Crawley, West Sussex, a motorcyclist was killed in a crash involving a lorry at 5.10am, and a woman died after falling into a freezing lake at Pontefract Racecourse, West Yorkshire.

The train network continued to run despite the severe weather, with the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) reporting 80% of its timetable operating today, with 66% of trains running on time.

A spokesman for Atoc said: “The snow and ice has caused disruption in some areas of the rail network and we understand passengers’ frustration where problems occur.

“Train companies and Network Rail are doing all they can to keep trains moving and get people to where they need to be.”

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