02/02/2009

Heavy Snow Causes Chaos Across Britain

Heavy snow and wintry weather is causing chaos across Britain, with hundreds of schools being forced to shut and bus, train and air travel services temporarily closed.

South-east England is the worst affected by the worst snow seen in the area for 18 years. As a result both Heathrow runways have been closed and all London buses have been pulled from service.

Gatwick Airport and London City Airport were also both temporarily closed, as their runways were de-iced.

A number of train services linking London and the south coast were also delayed or cancelled as snow fell on the tracks.

Transport London, issued a statement on its website saying: "All London buses have been withdrawn from service due to adverse weather and dangerous road conditions."

It added that buses would only start back "when road conditions allow".

Meanwhile more than 370 schools in Essex were closed due to the weather, while in Suffolk around 125 schools shut.

In Kent it was reported 50 schools have closed their doors and nearly 20 in Lincolnshire were affected by the wintry conditions.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for parts of Scotland, the north east and west, Yorkshire, the Midlands, London and the south east.

It is warning up to 30cm of snow could fall in some areas, while many will see at least five to 10cm before the end of the day.

Tom Defty, of the Met Office, said: "This is likely to be the heaviest and most widespread snowfall across England since January 2003.

"Parts of South-East England, including London and Eastern England, will see anywhere from 6in, perhaps above 10in over the higher ground.

"Severe disruption to roads and airports is extremely probable during the peak of the Monday afternoon rush-hour."

The AA has also warned motorists to drive carefully, as a number of traffic accidents were reported. They also advised drivers to keep warm clothes in their vehicles after they dealt with motorists “flirting with hypothermia” at breakdowns during last night's big freeze.

AA Patrol of the Year Andy Taylor said: "People often treat their car as an overcoat. But when you break down you are suddenly vulnerable to the weather.

"If you break down on a motorway, the safety advice is to get out of the car and wait behind the barrier. Unless you have extra clothes you really are flirting with hypothermia."

(JM/BMcC)

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