Storm Emma wreaking disruption across the UK
Hundreds of motorists are stranded on roads across the country.
Blizzards and heavy snow are wreaking disruption across the UK, causing several deaths and leaving hundreds of motorists stranded.
A red weather warning – the second in 24 hours – is in force for south-west England and south Wales as Storm Emma blasts the country, meaning the conditions pose a risk to life.
The Met Office has warned of widespread heavy snow and very strong easterly winds in affected areas, which will bring “blizzard conditions” and “severe drifting”.
Up to 50cm of snow could fall over parts of Dartmoor, Exmoor and south east Wales.
#RedWarning - Blizzards and continuous snowfall today across parts of SW England and Wales. Do not make unnecessary journeys, and take provisions in case you get stranded. Take care and stay #weatheraware #StormEmma pic.twitter.com/dezeQNKkyF— Met Office (@metoffice) March 1, 2018
The weather front, which has left cars trapped on multiple major routes, comes as the UK reels from the effects of the Beast from the East.
A seven-year-old girl became the latest to die during the severe weather on Thursday.
The child, believed to be a pedestrian, was fatally injured after a car hit a house on Bodrigan Road in Looe at about 2.30pm, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
A 75-year-old woman was earlier found dead in a snow-covered street in Leeds, while Hampshire Police said a 46-year-old man died after a collision involving a lorry and van on the A34 southbound near Tot Hill services.
A 60-year-old man who died after being pulled from the water at Danson Park, near Welling, south-east London on Wednesday, was named by the Metropolitan Police as Stephen Cavanagh.
A major incident was declared by Hampshire Police on Thursday evening as it dealt with a build-up of traffic and stranded motorists on the A31.
The force said it had called for the military to assist, with the route closed in both directions between the M27 and A338 at Ringwood.
Avon and Somerset Police said it was dealing with up to 100 cars stranded in snow on the A303 at Ilminster and a further 20 on the A358 at Thornfalcon.
#A31 We have requested military assistance & are on scene with our partners & are working to get people out as soon as possible. Rest centres are being set up by @hantsconnect & food & drink is being taken to those who are stranded.— Hampshire Police (@HantsPolice) March 1, 2018
In other developments on Thursday:
– Hundreds of schools were forced to close, including more than 125 in North Yorkshire and more than 330 across Kent, giving thousands of children a second snow day.
– The National Grid issued a “gas deficit warning” prompting fears of a shortage, but households were reassured domestic supplies would not be affected.
– Nearly all train operators warned of cancellations and disruption and hundreds of flights were cancelled.
– The Royal Air Force was drafted in to help relief efforts in snow-hit Lincolnshire.
The red snow warning issued for Wales and south-west England, valid until 2am on Friday, is just the third issued in seven years.
It means “widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely”, with concerns some rural communities could be cut off for days.
Amber warnings for snow and wind are also in force for much of the country until 10am on Friday.
The whole of the Irish Republic is also on red alert after being hit by the worst snow in 35 years, valid until 6pm on Friday.
Evelyn Cusack, senior forecaster with Met Eireann, warned 40cm of snow could fall in parts of the east and south.
Motorists across much of the UK have been warned against driving unless absolutely essential.
Freezing rain may worsen conditions in parts of south-west England and Wales in the early hours of Friday, creating hazardous stretches for drivers.
Scotland – which was subject to the first red warning – initially faced the brunt of the extreme weather on Thursday.
Hundreds of motorists on the M80 near Glasgow reported being stuck for up to 13 hours, with some spending the night in their cars, and others abandoning their vehicles.
Around 1,000 vehicles were at a standstill, tailing back eight miles in both directions, Police Scotland said.
Temperatures dipped as low as minus 10.3C in Kinloss, Scotland, overnight on Wednesday.