By Mark Duell for MailOnline
27 February 2018
Roads across UK see blanketing of snow, with treacherous driving conditions reported and blocked routes
M20 in Kent is blocked by stranded lorries while areas around Harrogate and Craven are particularly bad
More than an inch of snow has fallen in Newcastle and heavy showers are expected to continue this morning
Trains have also been affected by the snowfall, with cancellations and disruptions on lines across the country
Council officials in Kent are accused of creating ‘hype and panic’ after they declared a ‘snow emergency’
Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures have caused misery for commuters trying to head home from London this afternoon after four people died in two car crashes amid widespread travel disruption.
A Renault Clio and Scania lorry collided before dawn at 6.15am on the snowy A15 in Baston, Lincolnshire. Police said the road was busy at the time and several people ‘faced the shock of witnessing or coming across the scene’.
A fourth person also died in the bad weather after a crash on the A47 in Cambridgeshire. The three-car collision – the third on the same stretch of road near Peterborough – took place this morning and involved three vehicles.
Scores of trains have been cancelled, including around one in three of the services leaving London’s Liverpool Street for Essex – with routes to Southend and Braintree among those hit, along with trains to Ipswich in Suffolk.
There are also delays and cancellations on services from London Victoria and Charing Cross to Kent. Southeastern’s High Speed services to Kent from St Pancras are also being cancelled this afternoon.
Roads across the UK have seen a heavy blanketing of snow today, with other police forces reporting treacherous driving conditions and blocked routes – as the country is hit by Siberian air dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’.
People walk through snow in the freezing temperatures next to Tower Bridge in Central London this afternoon
People wait in the snow and freezing temperatures for a bus in North London today
Stationary traffic on the M20 near Ashford, Kent, today following heavy overnight snowfall which has caused disruption
People out and about in the heavy snowfall in North London today as the 141 bus travels from Wood Green to London Bridge
A man fits snow chains to his car in the Kent village of Brenchley today as icy temperatures persist across the country
Walkers in the snow at Regent’s Park in London today as the Met Office issued a series of weather warnings for the country
Highways England said the M20 in Kent had become blocked by a ‘number’ of stranded lorries overnight, while the A249 was shut due to a crash. Meanwhile shelves at an Asda in Gillingham, Kent, have been cleared of bread.
Many schools across the country were shut today, including more than 200 in Wales, 131 in Kent and 62 in East Sussex. The lowest overnight temperature of -8.9C (16F) was recorded in Farnborough, Hampshire.
The icy blast overnight has caused misery for morning commuters with scores of trains cancelled. Some shoppers reported supermarkets were busier than usual, but retailers said they have not seen widespread panic buying.
But police were called to a Co-op supermarket in the Kent village of Lenham this morning after a row broke out between three frantic shoppers who were trying to panic buy milk.
A witness said his wife had seen a ‘full-blown argument’ between the managers and a customer who was seeking to ‘selfishly stockpile milk’. Officers broke up the ‘minor dispute’ before the culprits left the shop.
Parts of Britain are forecast to feel as cold as -15C (5F). Areas around Harrogate and Craven were also particularly treacherous, according to North Yorkshire Police.
The Met Office said several centimetres of snow had fallen in some parts over the night – with 1cm (0.4in) in Kent by 5am, and between 3cm (1.1in) and 4cm (1.6in) in Newcastle and Northumberland.
The severe weather comes amid various reported issues on public transport, including:
- Southeastern, which operates in Kent, has cancelled dozens of trains, including several to London St Pancras
- Greater Anglia is also be running a limited services between Norwich and Ipswich, and London and Cambridge
- Great Northern said fewer trains are running between King’s Lynn in Norfolk and Cambridge during peak times
- TfL Rail only started its trains at 7am, with a limited service between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield
- British Airways has cancelled dozens of flights from Heathrow today, while easyJet is expecting disruption
Tonight’s League One football match between Bristol Rovers and Wigan has been postponed because of freezing temperatures. Rovers said their pitch was covered but would have frozen once the covers were removed.
The Checkatrade Trophy match between Shrewsbury Town and Yeovil Town is also off ‘with the safety of players and spectators in mind’.
Council officials in Kent were accused of creating ‘hype and panic’ after they declared a ‘snow emergency’ across the county yesterday. At the time, most areas had only received a light dusting of snow.
The decision was ridiculed yesterday. Ken Horn tweeted: ‘[I] haven’t seen the severe weather anywhere today travelling around. We coped very well in 1963, sure we can do it again without all the hype and panic!’
Seventeen cars were involved in a pile-up on the A120 between Colchester and Elmsted Market, Essex Police said.
One person suffered minor injuries in the incident on the Clacton-bound carriageway, which occurred at 10am today amid heavy snow. Footage showed a lorry among the vehicles at a standstill on one side of the road.
Police urged drivers to avoid the route, with one lane currently closed eastbound and a warning that the entire road ‘may need to be closed for recovery’.
One person has suffered life-threatening injuries after three crashes on the A47 in Cambridgeshire which are all believed to have involved the same vehicle, police said.
Cambridgeshire Police said the collisions all took place on the same stretch of the road near Peterborough.
The third crash involved three vehicles and led to the serious injury, the force said.
The A47 has been closed in both directions between the A1 at Wansford and the A1260 in Peterborough to allow police, fire crews and an air ambulance to deal with the incident.
Devon and Cornwall Police said a man has suffered ‘possibly life-threatening’ injuries after a van crashed into a tractor carrying a livestock trailer on the A30 near Bodmin.
The road was closed in both directions following the collision at around 9.45 this morning. No cattle in the trailer were injured, police said.
Earlier, the A38 in Plymouth was partially closed in both directions after a lorry crashed into the central reservation.
The heavy snow in Kent led to the cancellation of most of the day’s proceedings at Maidstone Crown Court.
There were contrasting emotions in Britain’s households as some children were told their schools were closed and others were informed they would have to go in.
At least 335 schools across England have been closed so far today, including 36 in Norfolk, 29 in North Yorkshire, 131 in Kent, 14 in Essex and 62 in East Sussex.
Some 27 closures have taken place in Lancashire, along with 22 in West Yorkshire, ten in Surrey and four in Staffordshire.
In Wales, 221 schools were closed – including 58 in Conwy, 35 in Denbighshire, 40 in Flintshire, 67 in Gwynedd and 21 on the Isle of Anglesey.
Suffolk county council’s website crashed under the weight of people trying to access its school closure list.
The closures create a headache for parents, who have to scramble to arrange childcare or not go into work themselves.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘Schools should stay open if they possibly can but safety concerns are the most important.
‘If it’s not safe for the school to be open then it is fine to close.
‘You have to take into consideration journeys at the beginning and the end of the day, as conditions may change whilst the school is open.
Snowfall is pictured from a drone over Gravesend in Kent as the South East is hit by severe weather today
‘It is important that staff and parents can get home at the end of the day as well.’
Heavy showers were continuing throughout the morning and are expected to cripple much of the country’s travel network.
Trains have also been affected by the snowfall, with cancellations and disruptions on lines across the country.
Southeastern, which operates in Kent, has cancelled dozens of trains, including several to London St Pancras, London Victoria and Cannon Street.
Other railway operators affected include Southern, Greater Anglia and Great Northern.
British Airways has cancelled several flights from Heathrow Airport, while easyJet warned disruption to its flights was expected.
School closures were also likely. Police forces across the UK have reported a number of crashes on the roads as driving conditions worsen.
Lincolnshire Police tweeted that they were already dealing with five collisions by 6.30am this morning and said roads were ‘particularly hazardous’.
Merseyside Police urged people to take care while driving, and said the force had received reports of a crash on the M62 just before junction 5.
And the North West Motorway Police tweeted that it was on the scene of a crash on the M6 eastbound at junction 5 after a car span across all three lanes and hit a tree.
A bus struggles up a hill in the Kent village of Seal near Sevenoaks which has been hit by bad weather today
Icicles hang from a frozen elephant fountain in Colchester, Essex, today as the country is hit by freezing weather conditions
Twin brothers David (left) and Russell Hall take their sledges out in the snow today at Avenham Park in Preston, Lancashire
Highways England said the M20 in Kent (pictured) had become blocked by a ‘number’ of stranded lorries overnight
In the East Sussex seaside town of Hove, motorists were said to be abandoning their cars on the way to work and walking instead – but some school staff who made it in were then told lessons were cancelled.
Amber warnings for snow are in place for the South East and North East of England and the East Midlands until midday, while a yellow warning covering much of the country is in force until midnight.
Forecasters are predicting 5cm (2in) to 10cm (4in) of snow will fall for most areas of the UK, with up to 40cm (1ft 4in) possible for higher grounds in Scotland.
Met Office meteorologist Emma Sillitoe said: ‘During the rush hour there will still be some really heavy showers around, making their way towards London.
‘There will also be further disruption throughout the day as these showers become widespread across the country.’
Temperatures plummeted to -5C (23F) in the capital overnight, and the mercury will struggle to get much above freezing during the day.
Conditions are not likely to improve for several days, with forecasters warning that snow will continue well into the week.
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said there would be some ‘quite treacherous driving conditions’ due to the snow, as many make their way into work.
‘Most people will have to travel, but if you don’t have to travel – it is best to try to avoid if you can within those amber warnings,’ he said.
Mr Petagna said daytime temperatures would ‘struggle to get above freezing’ across many areas.
‘Add on the effect of that wind, and the wind is going to pick up come Wednesday, so it is going to start to feel even colder still,’ he added.
Many local authorities said they were ready to react to the adverse conditions, with Kent County Council even stating all resources would be focused on keeping highways clear.
Network Rail revealed it would also be putting heaters and Nasa-grade insulation on to points on the tracks in a bid to prevent ice forming overnight.
The NHS could also struggle to cope with the extra strain caused by the wintry weather, doctors have warned, and people have been encouraged to check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours.
The public have also been asked to look out for the homeless and report anyone sleeping rough in the freezing conditions to their local council.
Horses on a farm in Salford, Greater Manchester, today as the area is hit by snow and the ‘Beast from the East’ arrives
An amber snow warning is in place for the North East of England and Scotland from 6am tomorrow to 12pm on Thursday, with up to 40cm (15in) of snow expected to fall during that period.
Forecaster Frank Saunders said parts of the country could see their ‘coldest spell of weather since at least 2013, and possibly since 1991’.
It is expected that the mercury could plummet to -15C (5F) by midweek where there is snow on the ground, rivalling temperatures forecast for parts of northern Norway and Iceland.
From Thursday, forecasters predict that another weather system, Storm Emma, will bring blizzards, gales and sleet as it meets the chilly ‘Beast from the East’ later this week.
The storm, named by the Portuguese Met Service, will move north through Europe and is due to hit the UK on Thursday and Friday, and will be ‘significantly disruptive’, bringing the risk of power cuts and transport delays.
Meanwhile two walkers were rescued in icy weather as they walked up a mountain and couldn’t get back down.
The two men hit a patch of ice on the top of a ravine but mountain rescue teams could not get to them by helicopter. Ropes were then used to winch the walkers to the top of the mountain. The men escaped unharmed.
They had been on a popular route in Llyn y Fan Fach, known as the Carmarthen Fans, in Carmarthenshire. Western Beacons Mountain Search and Rescue team were called after Dyfed-Powys Police raised the alarm.
Meanwhile ZSL London Zoo at Regent’s Park in London faced a power cut yesterday after the electrical supply was overloaded by too many storage heaters.
A spokesman said: ‘ZSL London Zoo experienced a brief power outage in its main office building yesterday morning at 10.15am.
The outage lasted for an hour and mainly affected the zoo’s administrative buildings, along with areas of its Butterfly Paradise and Penguin Beach exhibit. Back-up generators were on standby the whole time and the zoo continued to welcome visitors, where their visit was unaffected by the outage.’
A dog digs for seaweed as it plays in the snow on the beach at Saltburn-By-The-Sea in North Yorkshire today
A snowy Tynemouth beach is pictured today, following heavy overnight snowfall which has caused disruption across Britain
Newcastle Quayside is pictured today following heavy overnight snowfall which has caused disruption across Britain
MailOnline reader James Beale sent in this photo of snow at Lostock Hall in Preston, Lancashire, this morning