Motorists stranded and rail routes hit as 'Beast from East' tightens grip on UK


Heavy snow has caused more misery for travellers overnight - with the wintry weather disruption set to continue during the morning rush hour.

Police and fire services across the UK reported having to rescue stranded vehicles and deal with crashes as several more centimetres of snow fell in some parts.

Several roads were also closed during the night and into the morning due to treacherous driving conditions.

One of the worst affected places was the North East, with some roads being left impassable.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service tweeted that officers had been dealing with accidents in the "terrible weather", including one involving a classic Mini which had crashed perilously close to a cliff.

The A66 in Durham was closed between the A1M and the A685, while in Cambridgeshire, the A1 was shut both ways between the A1M and the A6121.

Cambridgeshire Police said conditions had caused long tailbacks, and a snowplough under police escort was deployed to get traffic moving.

In Dartford, the A282 had to be closed temporarily due to vehicles losing traction on the QEII bridge, while in Kent, roads police worked through the night to free several lorries which had become stuck in the snow.

There are also warnings of disruption to trains, with affected operators including c2c, Greater Anglia and Stansted Express, ScotRail, Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express, South Western Railway, TfL Rail and London Overground, according to National Rail Enquiries.

Temperatures plummeted again overnight, with Benson in Oxfordshire recording a low of minus 10C (14F).

For most places the mercury hovered at between minus 4C (25F) and minus 7C (19F).

Forecasters predict the snow and freezing temperatures will not be letting up any time soon, prompting the Met Office to extend some of its weather warnings.

An amber warning for much of the north of England and Scotland is in place until 6pm, while another covering London, the East Midlands and the east of England is in force until 10am.

A yellow warning covering vast swathes of the UK runs until just before midnight.

Forecaster Helen Roberts said: "The capital is waking up to quite a covering of snow this morning, as is much of the east coast.

"We've seen a couple of hours of really heavy snow in London, which was enough to give a few centimetres. Further north has seen even more snow, and the disruption is likely to continue throughout the morning in these areas.

"It will also be another bitterly cold day - even colder than yesterday, with a stronger wind chill."

Long delays on bus, rail and air travel, plus disruption to phone networks, are likely occur throughout the day, with the strong winds also leading to the drifting of snow.

Dozens of schools in Scotland will remain closed on Wednesday, including all schools in East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, Fife, Stirling and Fulbrick.

Rail companies have warned delays may continue into Friday.

Southeastern said it was planning to run a normal service but that some rush-hour services would be altered and it would look to introduce an emergency timetable "if conditions deteriorate significantly".

British Airways said the weather was likely to continue disrupting flights throughout the week.

It will proactively reduce flight schedules at Heathrow Airport "for several hours during the worst of the weather" on Wednesday.

Flights for later on in the week are "under regular review".

It is expected that the mercury could plummet to minus 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.