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Snow-hit drivers face standstill on M5 as cold snap closes out 2020

Met Office issues midnight predictions for New Year’s Eve.

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Orographic clouds above the Pennines as viewed from Bishop Auckland, County Durham (PA)

Orographic clouds above the Pennines as viewed from Bishop Auckland, County Durham (PA)

Orographic clouds above the Pennines as viewed from Bishop Auckland, County Durham (PA)

Temperatures are predicted to remain above freezing in many parts of the country as the UK says goodbye to 2020.

Although temperatures at midnight are expected to hover around freezing point in central and eastern England, London is expected to register 1C, Glasgow around 3C and Belfast 5C.

Despite the forecast, the Met Office issued a New Year’s Eve ice warning covering the majority of Devon and Cornwall, as motorists on the M5 faced standstill conditions due to snow.

The yellow warning cautioned that showers in south-west England will pose a risk of ice from 6pm on New Year’s Eve until 9am on January 1.

In a tweet urging drivers to avoid the stretch of the M5 north of Cullompton, Devon and Cornwall Police said: “A large amount of snow has fallen on the M5 between Jct 27 and 28 on both carriageways.

“Northbound is doing 20mph, Southbound crawling/standstill. Please avoid for the time being, consider having a hot drink at services if you can.”

Earlier, the force’s Roads Policing Team urged visitors to leave Dartmoor amid deteriorating visibility and falling snow.

Meanwhile, Highways England warned drivers to take care due to icy conditions on the M5 from Cullompton towards Exeter.

The final day of 2020 brought bitterly cold conditions for much of the UK and more snow – with a low of minus 7.5C (18.5F) recorded in Topcliffe, near Thirsk in North Yorkshire.

Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice in parts of Northern Ireland, most of Scotland and parts of North Wales and northern England had remained in place overnight into Thursday.

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Mist hangs over houses in Hotwells, Bristol, during the cold start to New Year’s Eve (Ben Birchall/PA)

Mist hangs over houses in Hotwells, Bristol, during the cold start to New Year’s Eve (Ben Birchall/PA)

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Mist hangs over houses in Hotwells, Bristol, during the cold start to New Year’s Eve (Ben Birchall/PA)

North Wales Police advised motorists to avoid all non-essential journeys as officers dealt with several collisions on the A55 amid dangerous conditions caused by snow and ice.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: “We strongly urge drivers to exercise caution on New Year’s Day with a high risk of both snow and ice on the roads.

“The message for those who have to drive is to adjust their speed according to the conditions and leave extra stopping distance so 2021 doesn’t begin with an unwelcome bump and an insurance claim.

“Snow and ice are by far the toughest driving conditions, so if they can be avoided that’s probably the best policy.”

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A cottage surrounded by snow in Teesdale, northern England (Owen Humphreys/PA)

A cottage surrounded by snow in Teesdale, northern England (Owen Humphreys/PA)

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A cottage surrounded by snow in Teesdale, northern England (Owen Humphreys/PA)

North West Motorway Police urged people to drive with care following a number of accidents, while Transport for Greater Manchester also warned people to expect delays and leave extra time for journeys.

Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) urged walkers to be prepared for the conditions after two groups had to be rescued from the Mourne Mountains in County Down on Wednesday.

Wednesday saw the coldest night of the winter so far, with a low of minus 10.2C (13.6F) recorded in Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands.

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