4 Feb 2012

Flights cancelled as snow arrives in UK

Flights are cancelled at Heathrow as freezing conditions grip the UK with “notable snowfall” heading to northern and eastern parts, forecasts Channel 4 News Weather Presenter Liam Dutton.

A new band of bitterly cold weather and snowfall is sweeping across Britain.

Sub-zero temperatures are gripping many parts of the UK and Channel 4 News Weather Presenter Liam Dutton forecasts “notable snowfall”, especially in the north this weekend. Central and eastern areas of England and Wales should expect 5-10cm of snow overnight into Sunday.

The Met Office has forecast temperatures as low -6C and -8C in many places and perhaps as low as -11C in rural areas.

Around a third of Sunday’s flights from Heathrow have been cancelled amid forecasts of up to 15cm of snow, reduced visibility and the possibility of freezing fog at the west London airport.

Operator BAA, Heathrow airlines, and air traffic control agreed to introduce a reduced flight schedule to “minimise the disruption to passengers” caused by adverse weather.

A revised schedule showing which flights will operate will appear on the Heathrow website.

Snow heading for UK, say weather forecasters. (Getty)

Freezing temperatures

On Friday, North Dartmoor recorded a temperature of minus 2.6C at midday, while High Wycombe recorded a temperature of minus 0.7C at 3pm. Temperatures in the south west, London and East Anglia did not get any higher than 2C or 3C.

British Gas said its fleet of 4x4s was on stand-by to get engineers out to customers and keep Britain warm during the cold snap.

A spokesman said the company had received more than 200,000 calls in the last five days, compared with 120,000 to 140,000 during a normal winter week, and was expecting a further 50,000 this weekend, compared with 20,000 normally in the winter.

A man ice skates on the frozen fens in Welney, south east England (Reuters)

The RAC said the situation was likely to deteriorate this afternoon and urged drivers to stay at home where possible.

Kevin Andrews, RAC patrol ambassador, said: “It looks like we’re going to get a dangerous cocktail of driving conditions this weekend, with heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures.”

The motoring organisation said it was attending 70 per cent more breakdowns than normal while a spokesman for the AA said it had been called out to deal with more than 4,300 vehicles this morning – around 1,500 every hour.

This figure is predicted to reach up to 16,000 by the end of the day, almost double the 8,500 of a usual Saturday.

Mik Barton from the Highways Agency told Channel 4 News a fleet of 500 gritter lorries has already clocked up a million miles on the UK’s roads.

He said: “The mileage goes up when it’s snowing because we go out more frequently.

“When it actually snows you have to plough it out of the way first.

“There’s a different danger to when it’s snowing. We refer to hidden danger – if it’s very cold, people might not think about it so much.”

And he issued a warning to drivers planning to use Britain’s motorways this weekend.

“If you break down in cold weather, it really is freezing. And the hard shoulder is a really dangerous, scary place to be.”

'Notable snowfall'
Central and eastern parts of the UK are at greatest risk of seeing notable snowfall this weekend. 5-10cm could fall widely, with more possible across northern England – especially across the hills and mountains. Ice will be an additional concern for many areas, with untreated roads at greatest risk.
Western areas - such as Northern Ireland, Wales, south west England, western Scotland and low lying parts of north west England - will see milder air move in during Saturday, tending to turn any snow back to rain.
Despite the snow only being 24 hours away, there’s still some uncertainty with the detail, so it’s worth staying up to date with the forecast through the weekend.
Read more from Weather Presenter Liam Dutton: Channel 4 Weather