Motorists and air travellers stranded as snow brings chaos

Ice and snow disrupted travbellers and closed schools on Friday morning as the UK struggled through the coldest night for seven years.

Snow continued to fall across parts of the south west, south east and north east, and in the north of Scotland on Friday morning, the Met Office said.

Temperatures in the Scottish Highlands plunged to a low of minus 15.4C (4.3F) just before midnight.

Snow-clearing efforts continued at Bristol Airport, which said flights would remain suspended until at least mid-day, while Bournemouth Airport opened at around 9am after an early morning closure.

Disruption to flights from airports in Cardiff and Bristol left queues of rugby fans facing a race against time to get to Paris ahead of Friday evening’s France vs Wales Six Nations opener.

Ex Wales captain and BBC pundit Sam Warburton was one of the passengers due to fly on the cancelled 9.30am flight from Cardiff Airport to Charles de Gaulle.

He told BBC Wales: “I have got 12 hours to get out there. Even if I need to get the Eurostar or something I am sure I will be there for kick-off so I am not worried at all.”

Rugby fan Leon Brown said he was due to fly out of Bristol Airport at 2pm but had received a text to say it had already been cancelled.

He said he was now looking to sell his two tickets for the game.

More than 100 people who left their cars on the A30 to seek shelter at a pub in Cornwall were told to pick up their vehicles “as soon as possible” by Highways England after gritters and recovery teams worked through the night.

Councillor Geoff Brown, who handles transport at Cornwall Council, said “the actions of a few impacted on many” after abandoned cars blocked emergency services, delaying the clear-up operation.

Two stranded buses carrying school children were among those rescued on Thursday night, he said.

Several police forces asked motorists to completely clear their vehicles, with Wiltshire and Thames Valley police telling drivers to travel only if absolutely necessary.

In the north east, several vehicles became stuck on the A690 between Durham and Sunderland, with Northumbria Police asking others to avoid the area.

And in south Wales, a courier driver slipped into a snow-covered ditch just one mile short of a 270 mile journey, according to road police.

Meanwhile, firefighters in Oxfordshire and west Berkshire worked with shovels to clear a route out of their stations.

Thousands of schoolchildren enjoyed a second snow day as hundreds of schools across the country closed their doors.

They included more than half of Bristol’s schools, more than 300 in Buckinghamshire, more than 150 in Cornwall and scores across Oxfordshire.

An amber snow warning which had covered parts of Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire, expired at around 10am.

It came after as much as 14cm of snow wreaked havoc in the south-west on Thursday.

Winter weather Feb 1st 2019
A snowplough clears a road near in Shaftesbury, Dorset, (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Two yellow weather warnings of snow and ice covering southern England and Wales, as well as the eastern edge of the UK from Shetland to The Wash, were set to expire at around midday.

On the rail network, passengers were urged to check before they travel in case the conditions impact services.

Transport for London also advised passengers to check their service status before setting off.

By lunchtime temperatures in the south east are expected to nudge towards 3-4C, meaning the sleet and snow should turn to rain.

However, the rest of the country, with the exception of southern Scotland and Northern Ireland, is expected to see wintry showers persist into Friday evening, Met Office meteorologist Emma Smith said.

The Met Office said a low of minus minus 15.4C (4.3F) was recorded just before midnight at Braemar in the Scottish Highlands.

Had it fallen more than 0.2C (0.4F) lower it would have surpassed the low of minus 15.6C (3.92F) set in 2012.

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