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Wintry blast brings travel trouble

The latest blast of wintry weather has brought difficulties for UK travellers, with roads closed and services cancelled in many parts.

Cars were stuck and lorries jack-knifed on icy routes as snow, sleet and high winds swept the country.

The AA said it had rescued 57 vehicles and attended 8,200 breakdowns by mid afternoon, reporting poor conditions in Scotland's central belt and north-west England.

Some rail and ferry services were suspended and more than 100 schools were shut in the Highlands and Islands, Perthshire and Northern Ireland due to the weather.

Several routes in the north of Scotland were closed due to drifting snow and fallen trees and Cumbria Police warned of icy conditions after receiving up to 40 reports of road collisions across the county.

A Met Office "be aware" weather warning remains in place for rain and high winds across the UK, with gusts of up to 80mph possible in coastal areas.

Flooding is also expected across much of Tayside, west central Scotland and south-east England.

Darron Burness from the AA's severe weather team said: "The reality is that while you can have your car completely prepared for winter, you can't control what goes on around you. If there's an accident ahead or a lorry jack-knifes, you're probably not going anywhere in a hurry, so you need to be prepared for that.

"Likewise, if you break down in a vulnerable location, say on the hard shoulder or blind bend, it's too dangerous to stay in the vehicle, regardless of the weather. If you're just wearing shorts and a T-shirt, as our patrols have seen this week, you're going to have a cold wait."

He added: "Flooding could be an issue as the snow gives way to rain. If in any doubt, don't risk crossing a flooded road or ford - just turn round and find an alternative route."

The British Red Cross also urged people to prepare for adverse weather in the coming days.

Simon Lewis, head of emergency planning, said: "Putting together an emergency kit to take with you on the move or keep at home is a great way to start - being sure to include items such as a torch, spare batteries, emergency contact details, bottled water and if travelling by car, consider taking a shovel."

Chief Inspector Matt Kennerley of Cumbria Police said earlier: "Although there have been no serious or fatal injuries, the danger of icy conditions remain.

"We ask that motorists take care, adjust their driving to match the conditions of the road and allow extra time for any journey."

The latest weather blast follows last week's fierce storms which left 120,000 properties without power in Scotland.

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