Published on 21 Jan 2013 Sections ,

Big freeze shuts schools and hits transport

Snow season: Thousands of schools close and transport struggles to cope as Britain continues to suffer in the grip of heavy snow and icy conditions.

Tens of thousands of children got an extra day off on Monday as schools were forced to close because of the snow. In some cases, parents were asked to bring shovels to help clear paths to enable them to open.

Over 4,500 schools were reportedly closed across the UK, including more than 200 in Essex, almost 300 schools in Norfolk and around 140 in County Durham.

Neil Farrington, a 42-year-old lecturer at Sunderland University, said conditions around his home in Castleside, County Durham, were as bad as the “horrendous” winter two years ago.

We’re all stuck in the house, climbing the walls. Father of three Neil Farrington

The father of three said: “All the schools round here are closed so I have a house full of kids and dogs and none of them want to go out.

“Our 12-week-old puppy went out and disappeared in the snow, we had to dig her out.

“The boys have been out sledging over the weekend but it’s too deep now. We’re all stuck in the house, climbing the walls.”

Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster was also closed on Monday, and flights to and from Birmingham airport were experiencing delays.

Channel 4 News snow map: Photos, information and videos of snow mapped across the UK

Road and rail

Layers of snow and icy conditions proved hazardous for motorists in the Monday morning rush while rail and air services continued to be hit. Edmund King, president of the AA, warned of people driving so-called “snowman cars” by not clearing off the piles of snow from the top of their cars.

“Drivers must clear the snow off their windscreens, lights and tops of their cars before setting out. This morning we have spotted lots of ‘snowman cars’.

“We have also seen drivers peering out of small openings on their windscreen as if they were driving a tank. The other issue is the number of cars with their lights and indicators compacted with hardened snow.”

This morning we have spotted lots of ‘snowman cars’ President of the AA

Heavy snowfall closed two major roads across the Pennines, the A628 Woodhead Pass and the A66 between Brough and Bowes.

The Highways Agency said both routes would be closed for some hours and advised drivers to find alternative routes across the Pennines.

Virgin Trains warned of some cancellations in its services between London and Birmingham and the north west, while services into London King’s Cross were also affected. Eurostar, First Capital Connect, Southeastern, Southern and South West Trains were all facing disruption. Eurostar said conditions were leading to speed restrictions and delays on all its trains.

There were delays on some London Underground lines, mainly because of late finishes to engineering work, while the bad weather caused hold-ups on the London Overground service.

UK weather forecast: snow shuts schools and causes transport delays (Image: Reuters)

Flights delayed

At Heathrow, some 10 per cent of flights were expected to be cancelled, particularly after 4pm when visibility is expected to be low. Passengers were advised to check the status of their flights before travelling to the airport.

Yesterday, people were left fuming after 260 flights were cancelled – 20 per cent of the airport’s usual business.

A Heathrow spokesman said yesterday: “Many airports have plenty of spare runway capacity so aircraft can be spaced out more during low visibility without causing delays and cancellations.

“Because Heathrow operates at almost full capacity, there is simply no room to reschedule the delayed flights.”

Hazardous conditions

One person was killed in Essex in an accident on the A12 in Essex last night, and drivers were being warned to take extra care.

A teenager was left fighting for his life after suffering head injuries in a sledging accident in Middlesbrough and a man was taken to hospital in Kent with broken bones in his face when he was racially attacked after confronting a group of youngsters throwing snowballs at him.

A woman, believed to be in her 20s, died after being found collapsed in the snow. She was discovered by a man walking his dog in Church Meadow, Deal, Kent, at 7.30am yesterday and pronounced dead at the scene.

A police spokesman said: “The woman’s death is not being treated as suspicious but it is unexplained. A post-mortem examination will be held later this week.”

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