Snow and ice cause travel chaos in UK

Britain recorded the coldest day of the year during the early hours of Monday morning, with temperatures as low as minus 15.7 degrees Celsius in northern Scotland…reports Asian Lite News

Snow has blanketed London and large parts of the United Kingdom on Monday, shutting schools, grounding flights and causing widespread disruption across a country struggling through a winter energy crisis.

Britain recorded the coldest day of the year during the early hours of Monday morning, with temperatures as low as minus 15.7 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit) in northern Scotland, according to the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service.

The cold snap left many parts of the country, including London, covered in snow from Sunday evening. The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for some parts of the country.

Motorists were urged to avoid driving in several locations, with some forced to abandon their cars. Many schools were closed. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, which all serve the capital, warned of delays and flight cancellations.

Despite the disruption, the arrival of snow two weeks before Christmas brought a festive atmosphere to Britain’s parks and streets.

Snowfall is relatively rare in southern England compared to northern Britain and mainland Europe, and Britons frequently gripe about the ill-preparedness of the country’s infrastructure when cold weather hits.

Inflation and an energy crisis have added to the concerns this year, as household bills have soared and people worry about whether they can afford to heat their homes.

National Grid, which manages much of the UK’s energy supply infrastructure, has instructed two coal-fueled power stations to start warming up, in case the cold weather threatens the country’s power network, Britain’s PA Media news agency reported.

The company said it was a “contingency” plan, which aimed to “give the public confidence in Monday’s energy supply,” according to PA.

Customers of some energy suppliers are also being asked to reduce their consumption for two hours on Monday evening, in a pre-planned test being run by National Grid.

Sunday’s snow dump came after several days of cold and icy weather which had already caused tragedy in Solihull, central England.

West Midlands Police said three boys, aged 8, 10 and 11, have died in hospital after falling into a lake on Sunday afternoon. A fourth boy, aged six, remains in critical condition.

“Searches of the lake are continuing as we seek to establish exactly what happened and if anyone else fell into the water,” police said in a statement on Monday.

Temperatures dropped to -9.8C in Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, overnight and to -8C across Scotland and Northern Ireland on what was the coldest night of the year so far.

At Loch Glascarnoch in the Scottish Highlands, 32cm (12.5in) of snow fell on Tuesday morning, according to the Met Office.

It will remain cold for the rest of the week, but BBC forecasters say it will turn milder by the weekend.

Avon and Somerset Police warned drivers to “only travel if absolutely necessary” after the force said it received more than 100 reports in five hours due to “treacherous conditions”.

The A39 near Cannington is closed after a crash involving a motorcyclist resulted in a bus overturning.

Avon and Somerset Police said conditions were “extremely icy and dangerous” as a result of freezing overnight temperatures and residual water on the road from last week’s wet weather.

Over in the South East, Kent County Council highways manager Toby Howe warned of flooding issues on the roads after an “awful night” of heavy rainfall.

In Wales, icy conditions on the roads caused cars to overturn, with nine road incidents being reported but no serious injuries.

In Cornwall, more than 80 schools have been shut and some roads are blocked after heavy snow fell in parts of the county.

Devon and Cornwall Police tweeted, urging drivers to “travel with caution as heavy snow showers sweep through the region”.

Schools in Shetland have been closed for a second day and more than 200 have been shut in the Highlands.

The Met Office said a further 10 to 15cm of snow could fall in a short space of time across northern parts of Scotland.

There have been 19 road crashes across Londonderry and Strabane as snow and icy conditions came in overnight in Northern Ireland.

The government health agency warned the severe cold weather could cause health risks to vulnerable people and disrupt services.

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan activated the city’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) on Monday to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers as temperatures fell.

The cold spell comes after widespread flooding left parts of the UK submerged over the weekend. More than 82 flood warnings and at least 116 flood alerts are still active across England.

Breakdown service the AA said it has been responding to around 12,500 incidents on the roads a day this week due the colder conditions damaging road surfaces and creating potholes.

It added this is an increase of about 25% since Saturday. AA spokesman Tony Rich said: “We advise drivers to adjust their speed to suit the conditions, especially when driving on wet or icy roads and to leave more room between their car and the one in front.”

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