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Snow causes travel problems in northern England and Scotland

Published 09/11/2016

A man walks his dogs as snow falls in Tow Law in County Durham after wintry weather swept across northern England overnight
A man walks his dogs as snow falls in Tow Law in County Durham after wintry weather swept across northern England overnight

The first major snow shower of the winter has swept across northern England and Scotland causing travel headaches for motorists, airports, bus companies and schools.

Several centimetres of snow fell across a swathe of the country from the Peak District northwards, leading to problems on motorways and high-level routes as well as some school closures.

Mountain Rescue volunteers have been credited with saving a missing pensioner's life after he got lost near Sheffield on Tuesday night in weather which grounded search helicopters.

In Huddersfield, a taxi driver had a lucky escape when his vehicle overturned in snowy conditions and there were reports of dozens of other minor road traffic collisions in the worsening conditions.

Leeds Bradford Airport was forced to close its runway for a short time as snow was cleared, causing some delayed and cancelled flights, and the Snake Pass, between Sheffield and Manchester, was also closed for some time as gritters cleared the road.

Among the motorways worst hit by the poor weather were the M62, which was reportedly littered with broken down lorries between Huddersfield and Greater Manchester, and the M621, which saw severe congestion after a lane closed due to snow in Leeds.

The bus firm First West Yorkshire tweeted: " Snowfall continuing this morning across the county causing hazardous conditions. Routes averaging 1 hr delays due to slow moving traffic."

Highways England issued a severe weather alert on Wednesday urging motorists in the North of England and the Midlands to check conditions before setting out and ensure they have a winter kit in their vehicles.

The deepest snow level seen by the Met Office by Wednesday afternoon was 13cm in Barnard Castle, County Durham.

There was also 7cm of snow at Bingley, West Yorkshire; 6cm at Spadeadam, in Cumbria; 3cm at Shap, in Cumbria; and 2cm at Leeming, in North Yorkshire.

But Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge stressed there may have been deeper accumulations in other areas, away from recording stations.

Mr Madge confirmed that the wave of snow which began on Tuesday evening and finished on Wednesday afternoon will not be repeated in coming days.

He said milder weather was on the way but warned that cold nights would mean frosty conditions.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice for eastern England between the Humber and the Scottish border as light winds and plummeting temperatures look set to freeze the melting snow and rain.

South Yorkshire Police praised mountain rescue volunteers after the pensioner got lost in the worsening weather.

A search operation was launched on Tuesday evening after the 77-year-old strayed from a path around Langsett Reservoir, north of Sheffield.

A spokesman said the terrible weather conditions meant helicopters could not be used and mountain rescue teams were called in to help.

Inspector Simon Owens said: "Without the massive help offered from Mountain Rescue, who sent 30 people out to help us look for this vulnerable man, this man may have succumbed to the cold weather.

"Thanks to them, the man was found a couple of hours later - cold but uninjured.

"They helped us save a life yesterday evening and I wish to publicly thank them for their support."

Further south, Surrey Police officers tweeted a picture of a car which collided with a "Drive carefully through roadworks" sign at the beginning of the M3.

The officers posted: "S ometimes you just can't make it up!! Single vehicle collision #drivetotheconditions."

In Cowersley, near Huddersfield, police dealing with the overturned taxi tweeted: " Snow! And it's causing chaos already.

"Take it steady and try and avoid steep hills, like Deep Lane where we currently are. This driver has minor injuries thankfully."

A small number of school closures were reported in West Yorkshire.

St Pauls CofE Primary School, in the Wibsey area of Bradford, said on its website: "We are sorry to announce that due to the poor weather conditions in Wibsey and boiler failure, school will be closed today to all pupils and staff. School will hopefully re-open tomorrow."

Councils are well prepared for the winter, with 1.2 million tonnes of gritting salt stockpiled in England and Wales, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The association said its winter readiness survey showed about half of local authorities are at the limit of their storage capacity.

It said the survey also showed more than 80% of councils have placed community grit bins for residents to access salt for pavements and side streets and 75% are using state-of-the-art GPS technology on the gritting fleets.

The LGA said 97% of councils were using Twitter accounts to keep people up-to-date with weather forecasts, road conditions and gritting activity.

Transport spokesman Martin Tett said: "Councils are fully prepared to protect residents and minimise disruption to their residents caused by the drop in temperatures.

"They are constantly monitoring up-to-the-minute weather reports to make sure they can stay one step ahead of the weather.

"We are well prepared for the cold with 1.2 million tonnes of salt stockpiled and a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters ready to be deployed.

"As well as gritting our roads and clearing snow, council teams are ready to be drafted in to help provide a variety of services to ensure we are looking out for the more vulnerable members of our communities this winter, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters."

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