Snow-hit drivers face standstill on M5 as cold snap closes out 2020

Temperatures are predicted to remain above freezing in many parts of the country as the UK says goodbye to 2020.

Although temperatures at midnight are expected to hover around freezing point in central and eastern England, London is expected to register 1C, Glasgow around 3C and Belfast 5C.

Despite the forecast, the Met Office issued a New Year's Eve ice warning covering the majority of Devon and Cornwall, as motorists on the M5 faced standstill conditions due to snow.

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Britain hit by snow and ice
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Britain hit by snow and ice
A woman clears snow from her windscreen near Mam Tor in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
A dog peers out from a car boot in snowy conditions near Mam Tor in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
A man falls off a sledge near Winnats Pass in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
BRADFORD - JANUARY 02: A woman walks a dog in the snow around Peel Park on January 02, 2021 in Bradford, United Kingdom. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
A car navigates snowy conditions near Mam Tor in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
BRADFORD - JANUARY 02: A man rides a quad with a child in the snow around Peel Park on January 02, 2021 in Bradford, United Kingdom. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
BRADFORD - JANUARY 02: People go sledging in the snow around Peel Park on January 02, 2021 in Bradford, United Kingdom. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
A car drives through snowy conditions near Mam Tor in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Children play in the snow near Winnats Pass in Derbyshire. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Orographic clouds above the Pennines as viewed from Bishop Auckland, County Durham. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
Kevin O'Neil (R) speaks to a participant in the freezing temperature of Combs reservoir as he leads a cold water therapy treatment group near Chapel en le Frith, northwest England on January 1, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A walker photographs the snow and frost in Marchwood near Southampton. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Individuals swim in Combs reservoir as they take part in a cold water therapy treatment near Chapel en le Frith, northwest England on January 1, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Rosie Parker plays with daughter Scarlett Parker play on a snow covered field on December 29, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. Heavy snow fall has covered the West Midlands and other parts of England as the Met Office has issued yellow warnings throughout the day. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
A COVID-19 testing centre continues to operate in Ancoats, Manchester city centre, as snow hits the UK. Tuesday 29th December 2020. (Photo by Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WIMSLOW, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: A football training session takes place on snow covered pitches on December 29, 2020 in Wimslow, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: A general view outside the stadium as residents enjoy the snow in the surrounding areas prior to the Premier League match between Burnley and Sheffield United at Turf Moor on December 29, 2020 in Burnley, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Driving instructor Steve Smith removes snow off the top of his car as heavy snowfall falls down on the west midlands overnight on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Driving instructor Steve Smith removes snow off the top of his car as heavy snowfall falls down on the west midlands overnight on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Cars are covered in snow as heavy snow falls down on the West Midlands over night on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Footsteps in the snow as heavy snow falls down on the West Midlands over night on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: A dog walker walks her dog for the first time in the snow as heavy snow falls down on the West Midlands over night on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: A dog walker walks her dog for the first time in the snow as heavy snow falls down on the West Midlands over night on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Layers of snow on the wall as heavy snow falls down on the West Midlands over night on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
Hikers in snow on Bleaklow Moor in the Peak district of Derbyshire, after days of wet and wintry weather across the Christmas break, with a cold snap and icy conditions still to come.
Hikers in snow on Bleaklow Moor in the Peak district of Derbyshire, after days of wet and wintry weather across the Christmas break, with a cold snap and icy conditions still to come.
Red deer in the snow alongside the A82 in Glencoe, Scotland.
A snow plough spreads grit as it passes through Killin in Stirlingshire.
Paige, 10, and her sister Katy, 2, sledging in the snow in a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pippa the goldren retriever plays in the snow in a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lizzy and daughter Connie, 6, are chased down a snow covered hill by their golden retriever Pippa in a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Niamh, 2, sledging in the snow in a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
William (surname not given) sledges in the snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Overnight snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Overnight snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Maddie, 7, plays in the snow in a park in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Konrad (surname not given) sledges in the snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Brothers William (right) and Konrad (surname not given) sledge in the snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Overnight snow in Burford, West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Vehicles in snowy conditions on the A40 near Whitney West Oxfordshire. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Snow covering the village of Oulton in Staffordshire. (Photo by Tom Leese/PA Images via Getty Images)
Snow covered houses in the village of Oulton in Staffordshire. (Photo by Tom Leese/PA Images via Getty Images)
Snow covered fields near the village of Oulton in Staffordshire. (Photo by Tom Leese/PA Images via Getty Images)
Cristina, 4, and her sister Stefania, 3, play with snowballs in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
Horses on the gallops in the snow at Sam Drinkwater's Granary Stables in Upper Strensham, Worcester. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)
A message written on a car window after a snowfall in Liverpool overnight. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: A car wheel spins in the snow as heavy snowfall falls down on the West Midlands overnight on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. Heavy snow fall has covered the West Midlands as the Met Office issues yellow warnings throughout the day. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
STOURBRIDGE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Members of the public help a car that is stuck in the snow as heavy snowfall falls down on the West Midlands overnight on December 28, 2020 in Stourbridge, England. Heavy snow fall has covered the West Midlands as the Met Office issues yellow warnings throughout the day. (Photo by Cameron Smith/Getty Images)
(Parental permission given), people make the most of a snow downfall on Camp Hill, Woolton, Liverpool. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
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The yellow warning cautioned that showers in south-west England will pose a risk of ice from 6pm on New Year's Eve until 9am on January 1.

In a tweet urging drivers to avoid the stretch of the M5 north of Cullompton, Devon and Cornwall Police said: "A large amount of snow has fallen on the M5 between Jct 27 and 28 on both carriageways.

"Northbound is doing 20mph, Southbound crawling/standstill. Please avoid for the time being, consider having a hot drink at services if you can."

Earlier, the force's Roads Policing Team urged visitors to leave Dartmoor amid deteriorating visibility and falling snow.

Meanwhile, Highways England warned drivers to take care due to icy conditions on the M5 from Cullompton towards Exeter.

The final day of 2020 brought bitterly cold conditions for much of the UK and more snow – with a low of minus 7.5C (18.5F) recorded in Topcliffe, near Thirsk in North Yorkshire.

Met Office yellow warnings for snow and ice in parts of Northern Ireland, most of Scotland and parts of North Wales and northern England had remained in place overnight into Thursday.

Winter weather Dec 31st 2020
Mist hangs over houses in Hotwells, Bristol, during the cold start to New Year's Eve (Ben Birchall/PA)

North Wales Police advised motorists to avoid all non-essential journeys as officers dealt with several collisions on the A55 amid dangerous conditions caused by snow and ice.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: "We strongly urge drivers to exercise caution on New Year's Day with a high risk of both snow and ice on the roads.

"The message for those who have to drive is to adjust their speed according to the conditions and leave extra stopping distance so 2021 doesn't begin with an unwelcome bump and an insurance claim.

"Snow and ice are by far the toughest driving conditions, so if they can be avoided that's probably the best policy."

Winter weather Dec 31st 2020
A cottage surrounded by snow in Teesdale, northern England (Owen Humphreys/PA)

North West Motorway Police urged people to drive with care following a number of accidents, while Transport for Greater Manchester also warned people to expect delays and leave extra time for journeys.

Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) urged walkers to be prepared for the conditions after two groups had to be rescued from the Mourne Mountains in County Down on Wednesday.

Wednesday saw the coldest night of the winter so far, with a low of minus 10.2C (13.6F) recorded in Dalwhinnie in the Scottish Highlands.

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