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Helicopter rescue as snow continues

A police helicopter was called in to rescue a dog walker who fell 30ft down a steep snow-covered slope in sub-zero conditions, as the icy weather continued to cause disruptions across the country.

The 51-year-old woman was walking her two dogs in a densely-wooded area of the Valley Gardens in Saltburn, Cleveland, at 9am when she slipped off the footpath.

She rang the emergency services from her mobile, despite only having patchy reception, and officers set out to find her. They struggled to locate the woman as she was hidden from view by trees as the temperature hovered around minus 2C (28.4F).

Colleagues in the Cleveland Police helicopter managed to find her using a thermal imaging camera at about 9.45am. With the help of search and rescue specialists, the woman was lifted to safety on a spinal board as a precaution and taken to the James Cook University Hospital for a check-up.

Elsewhere, motorists were still recovering after hundreds had to spend the night stranded in freezing temperatures as gridlock hit several major routes in Scotland.

Police across the country's busy central belt warned people not to travel unless it was "absolutely essential" after temperatures plunged as low as minus 17C (1.4F) and hampered gritting efforts.

The AA said Monday was one of the busiest days in its history with around 24,000 breakdowns attended - up from 10,500 on a normal Monday.

Many schools in central Scotland were closed and Glasgow University cancelled all exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Eighty exams across all disciplines will be affected and will be rescheduled for January.

Brendan Jones, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said temperatures were due to rise from Thursday through the weekend thanks to a shift in the wind direction: "At the moment, temperatures are struggling to get above freezing, but by Thursday most places are going to be above zero - 4C (39.2F) or 5C (41F) across large parts of the country. Many places will have a frost-free night."

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