25 Nov 2010

UK snow arrives early

The UK is braced for more wintry weather after heavy snowfalls across the country. Nick Martin braves the cold to look at how the country’s coping with the earliest snow for years.

Up to four inches of snow has fallen in north-east Scotland and northern England.

One hundred and twenty schools have been closed or partially closed in Aberdeenshire.

Thousands of children in the North East of England have also had an unexpected holiday. Gateshead Council and Northumberland County Council are among the worst hit authorities and have shut around 20 schools.

As snow arrives across the UK Channel 4 News asks if councils have enough grit. Read more: Where is the grit?
Several inches of snow have fallen in Aberdeenshire, Scotland (Reuters)

Traffic problems

A heavy dump of snow caused havoc for commuters in north east Scotland and northern England.

Drivers also struggled on the North York Moors, which have been hit by bad weather and sub-zero temperatures.

The A170 at Sutton Bank was particularly affected, as was the B1249 at Staxton Bank near Scarborough. The A165 Reighton bypass was partially blocked this morning, with slow traffic around the Sands Road junction.

Snow was also falling in Pickering, Thirsk and York while motorists reported problems on the main routes into Tyneside, where drivers complained some roads were not gritted.

Channel 4 News has made a snow gallery of your pictures.

Snow has closed roads in the north east of Scotland (Reuters)

A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “A total of 49 gritters with blades, six snowploughs, 28 footpath gritters, 24 farmers’ snowploughs and 13 diggers – a total manpower of 141 – have been in operation overnight and this morning from 5.30am.

“The lowest temperature overnight was minus 3.8 Celsius at Westhill.”

The AA reported a dramatic surge in breakdowns and had received 3,000 call-outs by 9.30am, largely in the northern and eastern areas.

Spokesman Gavin Hill-Smith said: “We are expecting another busy day and a particularly hazardous commute for people this evening.”People should try and stick to the main routes where possible and, when they can, avoid the more rural roads where black ice can be particularly treacherous.”

The AA rescued a “handful” of cars stuck in snow in the Aberdeenshire and Moray areas yesterday while call-outs were up significantly in North Yorkshire and Newcastle.

This morning they were coming in at about 1,400 every hour, it said, predicting this figure could increase by half in the worst-hit areas.

The latest travel information can be found at Traffic England, Traffic Scotland, Traffic Wales and the Northern Ireland Roads Service

More snow to come

Forecasters warned the cold snap was expected to tighten its grip as the week continued, with temperatures dropping to minus 5 Celsius in some regions over the next few days.

It is expected to be the earliest major snowfall since 1993.

Snow arrives at the Highland Wildlife Park (Reuters)

The Met Office said: “Snow showers have been falling all night across north-east Scotland, and down the east of England.

“There have also been some snow showers affecting Northern Ireland and parts of north Wales.”

Worst-hit is forecast to be the North of Scotland – with up to 8 inches eventually settling in Grampian – and in Yorkshire, north-east England and East Anglia.

By the end of the week a moderate dusting of snow is expected across the rest of the country, though it will remain heaviest in the North of Scotland.

Temperatures were not expected to rise much above 2-5 Celsius by day, remaining lower in the more exposed, rural areas.