Belfast Telegraph

Travel chaos as temperatures drop

Plunging temperatures and the coldest night of the winter so far have brought disruption to thousands of drivers across the country.

Overnight, thermometers showed minus 12.5C at both Tulloch Bridge and Loch Glascarnoch in the Scottish Highlands overnight, with temperatures in the rest of the UK well below freezing.

The deep chill led to accidents and motoring problems throughout the road network and recovery agencies such as the AA and RAC have helped more than 10,000 drivers each over the course of the day.

In West Sussex the A24 was closed for more than an hour after a van overturned and seven vehicles slid off the road, leaving two men in hospital.

And a woman suffered neck injuries after colliding with a sign on the A259 at Rustington near Littlehampton in the same county, leading to the road being closed.

At Inverness Airport a Flybe plane skidded off the runway after landing this morning. No-one was injured but the airport was temporarily closed and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is carrying out an inquiry.

Forecasters warn the cold temperatures could continue until later in the week, with snow likely in northern parts of the country tomorrow and Wednesday.

The Met Office has issued a series of warnings for icy conditions across Scotland and most of England, including the North, the Midlands and East Anglia, until midday on Thursday.

Black ice on roads has been a major source of problems, while some motorists were unable to even start their journey this morning.

The AA said workers had attended 10,000 breakdowns nationwide by 1pm with the busiest areas in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "We are in red alert status and had attended 2,750 breakdowns by 11am - twice as many as we would do on a normal Monday morning. This means we will probably help around 10,000 motorists by the end of the day.

"Our patrols are helping motorists with a range of cold weather-related problems including frozen locks and handbrakes as well as broken heaters that are unable to demist windscreens.

"We are urging motorists to take extra caution on the roads and to make sure they always travel prepared."

Last night temperatures dropped to to minus 7.5C at Sennybridge in Powys, Wales, while Katesbridge in Northern Ireland saw minus 7C and residents in Santon Downham, Suffolk, shivered at minus 5.5C.

The below-average temperatures meant large parts of the UK were colder than Moscow, where it was minus 2.4C and Copenhagen in Denmark, where it was a comparatively balmy 1.3C.

But it did not come close to Naimakka in the far north of Sweden, where it dropped to a bone-shuddering minus 32.3C.

John Lee, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "It is staying cold, and tonight we are looking at temperatures going widely below zero. Once again it could potentially get near to what we saw last night, but more likely minus 7C or minus 8C in Scotland.

"It is the daytime maximums that are unusual, not getting above 1C or 2C. The average for this time of year is 6C or 7C, and we are going to see 5C or 6C lower than that."

Mr Lee said temperatures tonight could reach minus 3C or 4C in England and Wales and minus 10C in Scotland.

"Up to 4C will be the highest anywhere in the UK today and tomorrow," he added. "Widely it will be 1C or 2C, and in parts of the south it could reach 4C."

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