UK weather: snow disruption continues with hundreds of drivers stranded – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK weather: snow disruption continues with hundreds of drivers stranded – live” was written by Haroon Siddique (now), Matthew Weaver and Claire Phipps (earlier), for theguardian.com on Friday 2nd March 2018 20.39 Asia/Kolkata

You can add South Western Railway to the list of operators experiencing major problems (see 1.18pm update)

I can’t get on its website at the moment, presumably due to the volume of commuters – like me – attempting to check their journey home, but last time I looked there was “major disruption” on most, if not all routes.

At any rate, it will not be running any services at all after 8pm tonight.

A building supply company donated pipes to Devon and Cornwall police searching for cars buried in huge snowdrifts.

The pipes were used as makeshift avalanche poles on Devon’s deluged A386.

Updated

Theresa May began her big Brexit speech today by thanking public sector workers and volunteers for helping those hit by the weather.

Opening a speech that had been switched from Newcastle to London’s Mansion house because of the severe weather, the prime minister said:

I would just like to take a moment to thank everyone in our country who is going the extra mile to help people at this time. I’m thinking of our emergency services and armed forces working to keep people safe, our NHS staff, care workers and all those keeping our public services going, and the many volunteers who are giving their time to help those in need. Your contribution is a special part of who we are as a country and it is all the more appreciated at a moment like this.

Theresa May delivers a speech at Mansion House
Theresa May delivers a speech at Mansion House
Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Up to 2,000 people stranded in Center Parcs Longleat have been told they can stay the weekend free.

Earlier Center Parcs left guest in limbo at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria and Longleat Forest in Wiltshire (see earlier). They were told not to leave their lodges because of blocked roads around both villages. Until now the holiday company had not made clear whether stranded guests at Longleat would be allowed to stay.

Updated

Virgin Trains said it will not run any cross-border trains between England and Scotland on Friday.

A Virgin Trains spokesman said: “We are working hard to look after our customers in whatever way we can and ticket restrictions on both routes have been lifted today, so customers who do decide to travel can do so on any service, but are advised to check our websites for the most up to date information before going to the station.”

The only trains running on the west coast main line between Glasgow and Carlisle are snow ploughs.

Police in Wiltshire believe that everyone who was stranded on the closed A303 have now been rescued.

Major incidents were declared in Wiltshire Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and Hampshire, after hundreds of drivers were stranded on roads in the west country. The A303 was worst hit with drivers complaining of being stuck in their vehicles for 15 hours. Around 40 people, including a baby, were stuck on a bus from London on the road.

Those who were stuck on the A346 between Swindon and Marlborough are now safe. They were rescued and initially moved to the village hall at Chiseldon; they are now being taken by bus to Swindon. Volunteers from the Red Cross have been assisting.

The red and amber weather warnings may have been lifted but yellow, be prepared warning for snow and ice, still apply to much of the UK.

A number of major roads remain closed including the M90 in Scotland, the A68 and A1 in the Borders, and the A303 and A46 in the west country.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has praised the heroic efforts of his staff in defiance of this week’s arctic conditions.

He said: “Once again the NHS is showing that we are there for people when they need us and that’s all down to our staff, so a huge thank you to everybody across the NHS who is going the extra mile for people at this highly pressurised time.”

Stevens singled out a London paramedic and staff at Sunderland for a special mention.

He said: “We’ve seen examples across the country, including Kat, a paramedic from London Ambulance service, who cycled to her blue light emergencies when the vehicles couldn’t get through. And staff in Sunderland who stayed overnight in the hospital last night, as has happened in many places around the country in order to be there for patients.”

Lisa Gerrett, a paediatric staff nurse and colleagues at Sunderland Royal Hospital, who slept in wards to ensure patient services could continue despite the weather, have been praised by the public.
Lisa Gerrett, a paediatric staff nurse and colleagues at Sunderland Royal Hospital, who slept in wards to ensure patient services could continue despite the weather, have been praised by the public.
Photograph: City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Fo/PA

Sunderland football club says it will provide a makeshift shelter for homeless and vulnerable people in the Stadium of Light this weekend.

It has a special warm-room complete with places to sleep, hot food and hot drinks for those in need of shelter.

Pets are also welcome, the club said.

Manager Chris Coleman helps as Sunderland staff clear the pitch to enable first team training at Stadium of Light on Thursday
Manager Chris Coleman helps as Sunderland staff clear the pitch to enable first team training at Stadium of Light on Thursday
Photograph: Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

There are still major problems on many main rail routes.

  • South Eastern Railway has urged people not to travel on it network.
  • Storm damage to fencing and coping storms at Dawlish in Devon has cut the rail link to Cornwall.
  • Arriva Trains to south Wales are cancelled until further notice.
  • Snow ploughs are still trying to clear the west coat main line from Carlisle to Glasgow.

Meanwhile, some rail travellers have been delayed after push-button train doors froze up.

A driver on a London Northwestern service apologised to passengers travelling between London and Tring, Hertfordshire.

He said cold weather had caused the opening mechanisms on some doors to freeze.

The driver delayed departures from stations to give passengers time to find a door which was working.

Network Rail Western has praised the efforts of “Team Orange” – its hardy track workers.

In Par, Cornwall, they have used leaf blowers to clear snow from the line. Further north a worker called Gerry dug snow through the night to keep the points clear at Bristol Parkway station.

They also faced some spectacular icicles at Rainbow Hill Tunnel in Worcester.

Meanwhile in south Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood thanked her milkman, John the Milk, for getting through.

She tweeted: “The #Rhondda is under snow yet John the Milk still does his rounds. Da iawn a diolch John. Fantastic.”

The weather has even defeated some snow ploughs and gritters.

Updated

Some 30,000 homes and business are without power in Ireland, with the country still in shut-down mode as schools and public buildings remain closed and bus and rail services cancelled.

Met Eireann lifted its blizzard warning at 7.30am removing its advice that people remain indoors, but the red weather alert remains in place until 6pm with strong easterly winds for Munster, Leinster and County Galway.

RTE’s correspondent Ciaran Mullooly reporting “all roads” in the county “impassable” with up to three feet of snow in county Offaly in the midlands with exceptional snow drifts in Cork and Wexford in the south.

The national forecaster said conditions remained treacherous in places with snow drifts and the risk of black ice.

In Northern Ireland 400 schools were closed and public transport also ground to a halt in some areas.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Barclay Bell told the Newsletter that the region appeared “divided”, with Armagh and Down bearing the brunt of the snow while some areas were untouched by the storm.

Tony Lacey in Wexford in the south of the country, which was badly affected by Storm Emma, posted video showing the build up of snow on the main shopping streets.

A man sustained “life changing injuries” after he fell awkwardly on his neck from a wall while taking photographs of the now in Cork.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday repeated the warning for people not to attempt to drive on roads.

“We’re still in state of red alert. It’s ok to go outside, but no unnecessary travel. The snow will continue to fall today,” he said.

“It’s going to take the weekend to get things back to normal.”

Most public transport services are still suspended with no flights from major airports with runways at Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock all remaining closed.

There will be no flights at Dublin airport but a spokeswoman said ice clearing crews were working hard to get themselves into “a good position for Saturday morning”.

Belfast Airport said it was “open and operational” but some flight had been cancelled.

Friday so far

  • Major incidents have been declared in Wiltshire Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and Hampshire, after hundreds of drivers were stranded on roads in the west country. The A303 was worst hit with drivers complaining of being stuck in their vehicles for 15 hours. Around 40 people including a baby were stuck on a bus from London stranded on the A303.
  • At least 9,000 households endured a night with out power. Electricity North West blamed outages affecting 5,000 homes in its area, on 100 separate faults on the network. Western Power said around 4,000 homes in south-west England and Wales were without power.
  • The military has been deployed to help clear snow-covered roads in and around Greater Manchester. The armed forces are also providing assistance in Lincolnshire, Edinburgh, Shropshire, and Devon.
  • The main hospital in Exeter has postponed all planned surgery and diagnostic appointments, due to the severe weather. An “Internal critical incident” has been declared by the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
  • South Western Railway has apologised to dozens of passengers who were stuck in trains overnight. A total of five trains were stranded overnight on the route between London and Weymouth, Network Rail said.
  • More than 1,250 flights to or from UK and Irish airports were cancelled on Friday.
  • Thousands of schools have closed. They include the majority of schools in Wales, 400 schools in Northern Ireland, and all 279 schools in Cornwall.
  • Flood warnings have been issued for parts of Cornwall’s south coast. At least five homes were flooded in Porthallow and the main rail line at Dawlish in Devon has been blocked by high tides and broken down trains.
  • Five people are so far known to have died in weather-related incidents. A homeless man, named locally as Ben, died while sleeping in freezing temperatures in a tent in Retford, Nottinghamshire. On Thursday, a seven-year-old girl died after a car crashed into a house in Looe, Cornwall; a 75-year-old woman was found dead in a street in Leeds; and a 46-year-old van driver died after a collision in Hampshire. A man who died on Wednesday in Welling, south-east London, was named as Stephen Cavanagh, 60.
  • Up to 4,000 guests at separate Center Parcs camps in Cumbria and Wiltshire have been urged to stay in their lodges because weather conditions make it too difficult to leave. Center Parcs has cancelled all of next week’s bookings at Longleat Forest in Wiltshire.

Around 40 people including a baby were stuck on a bus from London stranded on the A303, Avon and Somerset police have said.

A snowplough was used to free the bus and those on board are now on their way to Wincanton town hall, which the local authority has opened as a refuge centre.

The force said: “Conditions in Avon and Somerset remain treacherous. We continue to tell people don’t travel.

We currently have 20 significant incidents across Avon and Somerset with people stranded in snow drifts. There are on-going multi agency operations, which started overnight, continuing to help those who are stranded.

“We are currently in the process, as a matter of urgency, of rescuing people from two vehicles – one on Dunkery Beacon in west Somerset and another vehicle at Burrington Combe, north Somerset.”

Drivers reported being stuck for 17 hours on the A303 between Ilminster in Somerset and Mere in Wiltshire.

Thomas Hamilton, a 36-year-old sales director, was heading from his home in London to a friend’s farm when he got caught in the queue.

“I left London at 6pm. We came to a standstill at the start of the A303 around midnight. There were lorries and cars in both lanes trying to get up the hill. We drove past a burned-out car, then we didn’t move until 9:30am.”

Hamilton, who was stuck only 10 miles from his destination, said he moved for the first time in hours this morning after “a soldier got out in a hi-vis jacket with another good Samaritan and moved lorries”.

Stranded cars on the A303 between Ilminster, Somerset and Mere, Wiltshire
Stranded cars on the A303 between Ilminster, Somerset and Mere, Wiltshire
Photograph: Thomas Hamilton/PA

Twelve of Saturday’s Football League fixtures have already been postponed.

More than 1,250 flights to or from UK and Irish airports were cancelled on Friday, according to PA. It has produced a list of the airports with the most cancellations:

  • London Heathrow: 358
  • Dublin: 338
  • Edinburgh: 120
  • Glasgow International: 77
  • Bristol: 62
  • London City: 54
  • Manchester: 40
  • London Gatwick: 38
  • Cork: 38
  • Birmingham: 34
The Dublin Airport seen covered with snow
The Dublin Airport seen covered with snow
Photograph: Social Media/Reuters

The majority of schools in Wales are closed as well as many libraries and other council buildings and services, PA reports.

Of the country’s 22 councils, 12 are reporting that all schools in their areas are closed while information on the websites of the remaining 10 show hundreds
of further school closures.

Meanwhile all flights have been grounded at Cardiff Airport with an update expected at around 11am.

Several transport companies including Stagecoach in South Wales and Arriva Trains Wales, which has cancelled all services in the south, have suspended services.

Cardiff Council, which has closed all schools and libraries along with Bute and Roath Parks and Cardiff Market, said its teams had been working “around the clock battling heavy snowfall, freezing rain and frozen ground to try and keep the roads clear”.

A spokesman said: “Despite this, motorists are facing extremely difficult driving conditions this morning and the transport network is severely compromised.”

Snowdrifts caused by strong winds reach up to 3 foot high in Penarth, near Cardiff
Snowdrifts caused by strong winds reach up to 3 foot high in Penarth, near Cardiff
Photograph: Polly Thomas/REX/Shutterstock

A huge cannabis farm was discovered by police when they noticed a house was the only one in a street without snow on its roof.

Two officers found an estimated £80,000-worth of the Class B drug when they raided the property in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Network Rail has said it is still too hazardous to inspect the line at Dawlish in south Devon.

But a row is already building. Many travellers, businesses and politicians in the south-west of England do not believe the government is doing enough to make sure services are kept running in extreme weather.

Meanwhile, waves in Start Bay, Devon, have been recorded at 5m high. Homes close to the coast have been flooded, beach huts damaged, trees and telegraph poles have been flattened.

Gerd Masselink, professor in coastal geomorphology, said: “We have just had one of the largest easterly wave events on record (Hs of 5.58 m at Start Bay) coinciding with spring high tides. Damage reports are coming in from Torcross, Beesands, but also Dawlish.”

E.ON has become the first of the big six energy firms to hike energy bills after it quietly slipped out cost increases for millions of customers on the coldest spring day on record.

While the German firm is not increasing electricity and gas prices, it is removing dual fuel and paperless discounts for customers on standard variable tariffs, meaning they will see a rise of 2.6% for a typical annual bill of £1,153 from 19 April.

The company said the move would “make it simpler and easier for customers to understand our tariffs and compare them with other suppliers in the market”.

The town of Buxton and its 25,000 citizens have been completely cut off for the past 24 hours, according to resident Michael Hall.

In an email he says all roads in and out are either closed or impassable and the train service is not running.

Many of the surrounding villages, such as Hurdlow, have also been extremely hard hit, Hall points out. “It goes without saying that schools are shut,” he said.

He also pointed out the Met Office only issued a yellow, be aware, weather warning for the area.

If you could also praise the Buxton Weather Watch team who have been providing excellent weather, road and general community updates, and the local Mountain Rescue teams who have been very busy, it would be appreciated by everyone in this area.

In its latest update Buxton Weather Watch says more 20cm of snow is coating the area, and fallen trees have blocked a number of roads.

Our gangs cleared a fallen tree which was blocking the A6 near Morrisons at Buxton in the early hours, but another large tree has now come down at Topley Pike – again blocking the route. We’re working to clear this as soon as possible.

High winds still continue to cause huge snow drifts across the county – blowing snow back on to routes as soon as we’re clearing them. The A623, which was previously closed between Chapel and Calver, has now reopened and is passable with care.

But we have a growing list of closures in other areas, including: · A57 Snake Pass · A6024 Holme Moss · A53 Leek Road · A537 Cat and Fiddle · Monks Road between Chunal and Charlesworth · B6105 Torside Glossop to the A628 · Rushup Edge, near Castleton · Winnats Pass, near Castleton · A6 Buxton to Chapel · A624 Chapel to Glossop · Impassable routes: · A515 Buxton to Newhaven · A5012 Via Gellia (Pikehall to Newhaven) · A5270 Coalpit Lane south of Buxton · A6 at Taddington · A5004 Long Hill, Whaley Bridge to Buxton · Rotherham Road – Harthill Road to Worksop Rd · Baslow Rd – Holmesfield to Owler Barr · Main Rd – Owler Barr to Barlow

Buxton is badly affected with many main routes closed – also heavily hit are Bolsover, Chesterfield, the north Derbyshire Dales, and NE Derbyshire districts. In these areas we’re having to focus our efforts on keeping principal roads clear. These are a smaller number of vital routes that we concentrate on in severe conditions.

South Western apologises to dozens of stranded passengers

Philip Brown who endured more than 15 hours on a train with 50 people on board which became stuck overnight in the snow.
Philip Brown who endured more than 15 hours on a train with 50 people on board which became stuck overnight in the snow.
Photograph: PA

South Western Railway has apologised to dozens of passengers who were stuck in trains overnight.

A total of five trains were stranded overnight on the route between London and Weymouth, Network Rail said.

Commuter Philip Brown endured more than 15 hours on a train with 50 people on board which became stuck overnight in the snow.

The 49-year-old, who was travelling from London Waterloo to Bournemouth, Dorset, when the train became stuck in the New Forest.

He said: “I didn’t have any food or water, there were no buffet facilities on board, the train lost power and we lost heating and lights.

“I couldn’t tell you how cold it was but it was cold enough to prevent you from sleeping. People were taking it in their stride although one guy was quite agitated. People were wrapping jumpers round their legs trying to keep warm.”

A South Western Railway spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise to passengers who were stranded on trains overnight. They have all been taken to Bournemouth station where South Western Railway staff are providing hot food and drinks.

“Hotel accommodation will be provided for those unable to travel onwards from Bournemouth.

“Our staff, together with Network Rail have battled tirelessly throughout the night to try to get trains moving in very challenging conditions, and will continue to do so throughout the day.

“We are advising passengers not to attempt to travel today, but for those who have already started their journey, we recommend they return as soon as possible.

“Due to the continued extreme weather conditions, we will be closing the train service early today.”

Updated

5,000 homes without power in north west

Electricity North West says the number of properties without power has increased from 3,000 to 5,000 in the region. It blamed 100 separate faults on the network, each requiring teams to attend site to make repairs.

The combination of very high winds and snow has made restoration efforts very difficult.

Electricity North West incident manager, Chris Fox said: “High winds across the North West have caused damage to our overhead line network, and the snow and ice have added weight to the lines in some instances causing lines to come down and poles to break.

“The snow is also causing access issues even with our fleet of 4x4s, and we are working with the emergency services to highlight priority areas for restoration. Please get in touch with us if you are without power and stay safe and warm until our engineers can restore power.”

Exeter NHS declares critical incident

The main hospital in Exeter has postponed all planned surgery and diagnostic appointments, due to the severe weather.

An “Internal critical incident” has been declared by the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

It said:

“Due to the severe conditions, the trust has declared an internal critical incident which means we are prioritising all available staff and resources to urgent and emergency services only today at our main Wonford site and in community teams.

“As a result we have postponed all outpatient and planned routine surgery and diagnostic appointments today and we will contact all patients affected to reschedule as soon as possible. All emergency services including our emergency department are running as normal at this time.

“We would ask the public to continue their support for our staff by not visiting friends or relatives in the hospital today unless absolutely essential.”

Readers around the UK have been sharing more of their images of snowy scenes.

Mario Alberto Moreno Rocha, a research student at the University of St Andrews living in Dundee, said there has been no academic activity – until today – due weather warnings in Scotland. This morning he spotted some undergraduates in their gowns in St Salvator’s quad:

Undergraduates in their gowns in St Salvator’s quad at the University of St Andrews
Undergraduates in their gowns in St Salvator’s quad at the University of St Andrews.
Photograph: Mario Alberto Moreno Rocha/GuardianWitness

Sales office administrator, Ness, 53 from Castleford tried to avoid an accident by leaving her car at home and walking to work instead. Unfortunately the car has been written off after another car hit it:

Blue car with cracks and ice in it
A picture of Ness’ car.
Photograph: Ness/GuardianWitness

Gwyneth Couchman, 65, from Cwm Penmachno, Snowdonia is often snowed in but that doesn’t stop her husband from going out to the shops for supplies: “Thankfully our community is a very caring one and neighbours help out with lifts from the bottom of our track. This is my husband returning with the essentials – bread, milk, cheese and the Guardian of course.”

Man struggling through the snow with shopping
Gwyneth’s husband with the essential supplies.
Photograph: Gwyneth Couchman/GuardianWitness

You can continue to share your images and video via GuardianWitness using the contribute buttons above.

Wiltshire council has become the latest local authority to declare a major incident due to the extreme weather.

Major incidents have also been declared by police forces in Hampshire, Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and Lincolnshire.

Ahead of the current amber warning for snow expiring at 10am this morning, Scots are still being warned to travel only if absolutely necessary.

Snow is not expected to thaw for days and further snow showers are expected throughout Friday.

Those heading out are advised to make sure they are fully prepared with a winter kit, warm clothing, food and drink.

Police Scotland Superintendent Helen Harrison said:

“The snow has settled and is not expected to thaw, so extreme care will still need to be taken on the roads towards lunchtime and beyond, as public transport systems also start to operate again. You should still consider if your journey is necessary and think about using buses and trains when they are running or postponing your travel until weather has improved further.”

A woman struggles on icy steps in Edinburgh
A woman struggles on icy steps in Edinburgh
Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Matt Collins is one of around 2,000 guests stuck in limbo in Center Parcs Longleat (see earlier), along with another 2,000 in the same position in Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, Cumbria.

“There are worse places to be stuck”, he told the Guardian after Center Parcs warned guests not to leave because of blocked roads around both villages.

But Collins said it was frustrating not knowing whether he and his family could stay in their lodge.

I’m here with my wife and two kids and my mother-in-law. They told us the park is at capacity. And most of the facilities are open apart from the outdoor ones like all the tree stuff and playgrounds. It’s just tempered by not knowing where we are going to be sleeping tonight.

Collins, who runs a digital marketing company, added:

“There is no more information than you have seen on the Facebook post. On the TV screens it says ‘stay in your lodges, the roads are not passable or safe, and we’ll update you a bit later’.

“I’ve called to see if we can stay an extra night, because the amber weather warning is covering our route from here to home.

“They are telling us not to leave, but they are not telling us if we can stay, if that makes sense. A lot of the shops aren’t open, but the main supermarket is open, and there’s no panic buying just yet.

“If we have to stay tonight, my understanding is that we will have to pay, and that wasn’t what we were planning. It’s a little fraught, because we don’t know what’s going on. We don’t know if we can leave, we don’t know if we can stay.

Update: Center Parcs has since cancelled all bookings to Longleat Forest arriving today. In a statement it said:

Due to the extreme weather conditions affecting the UK, despite our best efforts, we have been forced to cancel all bookings for this weekend at Center Parcs Longleat Forest (Fri 2nd March – Mon 5th March). Longleat Forest has experienced unprecedented weather conditions overnight and access to and from this village is almost impossible. Local Police are advising that the public do not travel today. We apologise for the disappointment this will cause and guests who were due to arrive at Longleat Forest today will of course have their break re-arranged.

Updated

A homeless man, named locally as Ben, died while sleeping in freezing temperatures in a tent in Retford, Nottinghamshire, the Nottingham Post reports.

The man’s body was discovered in the early hours of Tuesday and police confirmed they were made aware of a “sudden death” by the ambulance services at 8.40am that morning.

Speaking to the paper, scout leader Hazel Newstead, who knew Ben, described him as “a lovely, friendly chap” who had told her he was 53 and a former brickie from the south of England. “We used to chat to Ben over the wall. He was happy here and didn’t want to go to a shelter in Worksop,” she said.

Local designer Kenny Roach said he had known Ben well and had previously given him money and food. He said Ben had recently come out of hospital after suffering from pneumonia.

“He was a grafter but he just needed somebody to give him a break,” said Roach. “He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have a home, he couldn’t get a home because he didn’t have a job, and he couldn’t get benefits because he didn’t have a home. It’s a vicious, vicious circle. People need to cut them some slack.”

There are no legal protections for people sleeping rough in England during severe weather, but most councils offer extra beds when temperatures are forecast to drop below 0C for three consecutive nights. A survey by the charity Homeless Link found that last winter 118 local authorities provided “severe weather and extended winter provision” to 2,793 people.

Updated

There are seven flood warnings (meaning flooding is expected and immediate action is required) across the UK. Four are in the north east of England and three in the south-west.

Twenty flood alerts – flooding is possible, be prepared – are in operation, again mainly in the north-east and south-west.

The worst area in Cornwall appears to be Porthallow on the Lizard Peninsula, where five properties have been flooded because of a combination of high tides, strong winds and melting snow.

The rail line at Dawlish in south Devon has been blocked, according to Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard. There are unconfirmed reports that the seawall – battered by storms in 2014 – has been damaged again.

If so there will be recriminations. The main line to Plymouth and beyond runs through here and many people feel not enough is being done to protect the route.

Pollard said: “In the same week the Government published its sham of a strategy for SW rail the track at Dawlish is blocked by storms again. Time for action not more vague promises from ministers.”

South Western Railway warned passengers to expect disruption to until noon.

“Due to multiple broken-down trains between Weymouth and Southampton Central, all lines are blocked. Train services running to and from these stations may be cancelled, delayed or revised at short notice. All stations between Bournemouth and Weymouth will not be served. Disruption is expected until 12:00 02/03.

“Because of the severe weather conditions, multiple trains have broken down between Weymouth and Bournemouth. All lines between these stations are currently blocked.

“Trains are stuck in a queue behind the defective trains and are unable to move. We are in the process of trying to move the broken-down trains and will update you when we have further information. Emergency rail replacement is extremely limited in the area due to severe weather, but we are doing our best to help you complete your journey.”

Meanwhile, in Cornwall at least five homes have flooded in Porthallow.

Flood water is 3ft deep in places, the landlord of the Five Pilchards pub in Porthallow, told BBC Radio Cornwall.

Updated

The military has been deployed to help clear the snow-covered roads in and around Greater Manchester after drivers were stranded for several hours overnight, police have said.

Greater Manchester Police urged motorists not to travel at all on Friday morning as winds of up to 80mph whip up huge snow drifts, especially in the worst-hit boroughs of Rochdale and Oldham.

A large stretch of the M62 – between Rochdale and Huddersfield, including the bit where it becomes the highest motorway in England – have been closed due to the treacherous conditions.

Drivers were reportedly stuck for 11 hours overnight between Junctions 21 at Milnrow and Junction 22 at Saddleworth, with some abandoning their cars and seeking refuge with nearby residents.

Heroic volunteers were seen trekking up the motorway with supplies, while highways officers reportedly resorted to cutting through a barrier on the M62 carriageway so drivers could be guided to safety.

Traffic queueing to leave the M62 motorway ahead of junction 24 after the road was closed between junctions 21 and 24 as extreme weather continued to wreak havoc.
Traffic queueing to leave the M62 motorway ahead of junction 24 after the road was closed between junctions 21 and 24 as extreme weather continued to wreak havoc.
Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

This is the A46 near Bath. There’s usually a big traffic jam here at this time. Today empty apart from stranded vehicles and dog walker.

Steven Morris

Trapped Center Parcs guests

Hundreds of guests at separate Center Parcs camps in Cumbria and Wiltshire have been urged to stay in their lodges because weather conditions make it too difficult to leave.

In Facebook update Center Parcs said many of the majors roads around Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, Cumbria and Longleat Forest in Wiltshire are blocked.

“For guests currently at Whinfell and Longleat Forest, please remain in your lodge,” it said.

Both parks have around 850 lodges with a capacity for 4,000 guests between them. Friday is change over day at Centre Parcs.

Center Parcs urged customers who have bookings at both camps not to set off.

It added:

We will issue a further update at 9.30am when we have a clearer picture of the conditions and routes in and out of both villages.

Thanks to Paul Nettleton for the tip off.

Updated

Some 3,000 homes are without electricity in the north west of England, according to Electricity North West.

A spokeswoman told the Guardian:

The main areas affected are around Macclesfield, Bollington and Oldham. Further north, around Kendal and Penrith, really deep snowdrifts are hampering everyone’s efforts to get to the areas affected and get people back on supply.

We think we have around 3,000 households currently off supply. We have got teams heading out at the minute. We are doing absolutely that everything we can. There is no estimated time of restoration – the faults are so widespread.

The firm said that because of the high winds and heavy snow some of their work teams have had to stop repairs until it is safe to continue.

Oxfordshire had escaped the worst of the snow until last night.

Today most schools in Oxford and the rest of the county have been closed, more than 100 in total, although both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes university appear to be operating as normal.

The Chiltern railway line to Oxford has been closed because of the snow, while GWR has advised its passengers not to travel today on the west coast line.

Oxfordshire fire and rescue services are advising drivers to stay off the roads, with some A roads blocked.

Meanwhile the residents of Chipping Norton are having their morning disrupted after power was cut to the village and surrounding area in the early hours of this morning.

Some good news: we’re not going to run out of gas just yet

The National Grid has withdrawn its gas deficit warning following an increase in supplies to the network.

On Thursday the power operator said there were not enough supplies to meet demand.

But today it said the market has “continued to respond over the last 24 hours and we have seen an increase of supplies into the network”.

In a statement National Grid said:

“The ‘Gas Deficit Warning’ issued yesterday was withdrawn at 4.45am this morning and we are currently not expecting to issue another today.

The market has continued to respond over the last 24 hours and we have seen an increase of supplies into the network.

“As the extremely cold weather continues we expect to see high demand on the gas network, so we are continuing to monitor developments closely.

“Protecting customer supplies is always our first priority and we would like to reassure them that this high demand has not affected their domestic gas supplies.”

A British Army soldier from a Guards Regiment on duty outside Buckingham Palace
A British Army soldier from a Guards Regiment on duty outside Buckingham Palace
Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The Ministry of Defence has provided a breakdown of the areas where the armed forces have been deployed to help tackle the worst of the weather.

  • In Lincolnshire military assistance began at 6am on Thursday, following a request from Lincolnshire Local Resilience Forum. The RAF (No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron from RAF Wittering) has deployed 10 4×4 RAF vehicles and 20 personnel to transport health staff to hospitals and support health workers in visiting vulnerable people in the community.
  • In Scotland military assistance began at 6pm on Thursday following a request from NHS Scotland. Three Rifles and Two Scots have deployed eight 4×4 vehicles and 20 personnel to transport NHS Scotland staff needed to deliver critical care services to and from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and the Western General Hospital.
  • In Shropshire military assistance began at 5am on Friday following a request from Shropshire NHS. Royal Irish deployed 10 4×4 vehicles and 20 personnel to transport health staff to hospitals and support health workers in visiting vulnerable people in the community.
  • In Devon military assistance began at 6am on Friday following a request from Devon and Cornwall NHS. The Royal Marines were due to deploy 10 4×4 vehicles and 20 personnel to transport health staff to hospitals and support health workers in visiting vulnerable people in the community.

A spokesman said:

“The Armed Forces are assisting emergency services in ensuring essential NHS staff are able to get to work and carry out their work in local communities and are standing by to help the Police and civil authorities across the UK following heavy snowfall. We are also aware of Armed Forces personnel volunteering in their own time with their own vehicles to help those in need.”

Snow on Weymouth Beach, Dorset,
Snow on Weymouth Beach, Dorset,
Photograph: Finbarr Webster/REX/Shutterstock

Hundreds of drivers remain stranded across the west country with major incidents declared in Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and Hampshire.

Around 100 lorries and cars are stuck on the A303 near Chicklade in Wiltshire. The army was brought in to help motorists stranded on the A31 in Hampshire. Scores of roads and stretches of motorways were also closed.

Dozens of passengers have also been stuck in a train overnight near Christchurch in Dorset.

Rest centres have opened in Chudleigh, Okehampton and Totnes in Devon for those who cannot get home.

The message from forces remained that people should only travel if essential. NHS bosses asked members of the public to only call 999 if absolutely necessary. Train operators said they would only be operating minimal services. Bristol airport is open but flights have been cancelled.

There is likely to be more disruption across the region as more snow, sleet and freezing rain is predicted.

The government says the army is on stand-by and ready to help – but it is up for local police forces to ask for them.

Ch Insp Adrian Leisk, head of roads policing across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, has paid a tribute to the many police officers who have not made it home.

The amber warning for Scotland remains in place until 10am this morning, with bitter winds forecast for the rest of the day bringing temperatures barely above freezing.

Unite Scotland has hit out at DHL and other delivery companies for “putting profit before people” by sending out delivery drivers during the red warning yesterday.

There are reports of huge snowdrifts across the country, with South Lanarkshire Council warning of drifts of up to 10 feet with snow blowing from adjacent fields on exposed routes.

ScotRail has said no services will be running through the amber alert area until tests are carried out on tracks, with no trains on the usually essential commuter route between Edinburgh and Glasgow, while Virgin Trains has said no trains will be running on the west coast route from Carlisle to Scotland until at least 2pm.

Lothian Buses says there will be no local routes operating in Edinburgh, while a few routes in Glasgow will be starting this morning.

Hundreds of schools up and down the country remain closed this morning, while Glasgow School of Art has also been closed until Monday.

The M80 near Glasgow earlier this week.
The M80 near Glasgow earlier this week.
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Chris Grayling
Chris Grayling
Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has insisted that the authorities are doing their best to help people stranded in cars and to get trains moving.

But speaking to BBC News he urged the public to help in a collective effort to cope with the severe weather.

“This is a time when everybody needs to rally together,” he said. Grayling stopped short of thanking public sectors workers but he did praise 4×4 owners who had helped drive health service staff to work.

Speaking outside Kings Cross station in London, he added: “We have got teams from Highways England, obviously local police, in some places the armed forces are providing support on the ground. Obviously everyone will do their best to get motorists moving as quickly as possible, and also to get railway lines reopened. I’m standing at Kings Cross where many of the trains are now running but there are parts of the east coast mainline still not open. Network Rail is working very hard to get those routes open as soon as we possible can.”

Asked why the army had not be deployed in more areas, Grayling said it was for local police forces to request military assistance.

He said: “I have talked to defence ministers in the last few hours, the offer is there but it has got to be down to local police to decide when they need that help. We have said through Highways England and to local police, ‘if you need additional, that support will be provided’. Defence ministers are on standby to ask the forces to help where they can make a difference.”

Updated

Friday so far

  • Amber weather alerts for snow remain in place in central and eastern Scotland, Northern Ireland and south-west England and Wales, where strong winds continue to cause blizzards and some freezing rain.
  • A red alert that was in place for south-west England and Wales has passed, but in Ireland, Met Éireann says a “status red” national warning remains in effect, with blizzard conditions expected to continue throughout Friday.
  • Flood warnings have been issued for parts of Cornwall’s south coast.
  • Four people are so far known to have died in weather-related incidents. On Thursday, a seven-year-old girl died after a car crashed into a house in Looe, Cornwall; a 75-year-old woman was found dead in a street in Leeds; and a 46-year-old van driver died after a collision in Hampshire. A man who died on Wednesday in Welling, south-east London, was named as Stephen Cavanagh, 60.
  • Two teenage boys were taken to hospital with serious injuries after they were trapped under a fallen tree in Blackley, Manchester.
  • Many major routes are still blocked by heavy snow and ice, and hundreds of drivers were stranded overnight on the M62 in Greater Manchester; the A31 in Hampshire; the A35 in Dorset; and the A303 at Ilminster, where Avon and Somerset police last night declared a major incident.
  • The M9 near Stirling is blocked after a lorry jack-knifed in 8ft (2.4m) snow drifts.
  • Arriva Trains services in Wales are suspended.
  • Hundreds of homes suffered power blackouts, in central Scotland, north-east England, the Midlands, south-west England and Wales.
  • The army has been brought in to assist in several areas, helping NHS staff reach workplaces in Scotland and Lincolnshire.

I’m now handing the live blog to Matthew Weaver, who will bring you all the latest developments throughout the day. Do let us know conditions where you are (but stay inside if you can), in the comments below, via this link or through the Guardian Witness button above.

It’s a whiteout on most newspaper front pages today, with the Times, Scotsman, Telegraph, i, Metro, Sun and Daily Star all leading on the wintry weather. The Express of course doesn’t deviate from what is its perennially favourite topic, though its top concern is that the UK is (or was, anyway) running out of gas.

The Daily Record opts for a different view of the snow – and for measuring it:

While the red alerts – the highest level – have been downgraded in the UK to amber, that’s not the case in Ireland, where Storm Emma continues to pose a high risk.

Met Éireann‏ forecasts heavy snowfall, icy conditions and strong easterly winds across Ireland throughout Friday. The “status red” is due to remain in place until 6pm.

Gas deficit warning withdrawn

After warnings yesterday that the UK was running out of gas, National Grid has today said there is enough supply to meet demand, our energy correspondent notes:

The severe weather has scuppered Theresa May’s plans to unveil her latest Brexit plans in Newcastle today. Instead, she’ll make her speech at Mansion House, London. Here’s a preview:

On the fourth day of advising against all but essential travel, police are still urging drivers to stay off the roads – particularly those that have “ROAD CLOSED” signs:

This morning, around 4,000 homes in south-west England and Wales are still without electricity, according to an update from Western Power.

As vehicles – and their occupants – were stranded on the M62 in Greater Manchester in freezing temperatures overnight, locals in Milnrow, Rochdale, joined emergency services to bring hot drinks, food and blankets to those stuck, Press Association reports.

Volunteer Eleanor Kelly, 19, told PA:

We’ve been trying to get to as many people as we can in about a mile radius from where we can get to the carriageway. It’s been a bit mad. We even had to warm up some hot milk for a guy stuck at the junction with two children.

We knocked on his car and he had a five-week-old baby and what must have been a one- or two-year-old girl in the car with him.

One guy came in [to the community centre] who had come from north Lincolnshire and had been in his car since 8.30am.

The church next door is also opening, and we’re preparing for a coachload of pensioners soon.

It’s been amazing to see so many people turning out to help us – it’s quite impressive to see.”

Dave Webb, 37, from Wakefield, said he had been stuck for about 10 hours halfway between junctions 21 and 22 of the M62, with queues of other stranded vehicles in front and behind him. Speaking to the Press Association at about 3.30am he said:

We came to a halt at about 5.30pm last night and have been here since. We brought water, snacks and blankets for myself and my wife and have plenty of petrol, but we just want to be home now.

There hasn’t been any snow since about 6.30pm but the wind is pretty strong and gusting. Ploughs have been on the eastbound carriageway.”

The amber alert for snow in central Scotland is due to expire at 10am today. But Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf is urging those in the region to continue to take care – and not to assume conditions will be back to normal:

Please don’t assume on Fri 10.01am that trunk road network will be completely clear.

Gritters etc will need time for post red/amber recovery.

Many rail and bus services in central Scotland are still suspended this morning.

Virgin Trains services are suspended between Carlisle and Edinburgh until at least 2pm.

Police Scotland have asked motorists to avoid driving today unless their journey is essential.

Amid stiff competition, the coldest place in the UK on Thursday was Kinloss – where temperatures plunged to -10.3C:

Greater Manchester police has an update on drivers stranded in the region:

For anyone worried about family or friends who have been stuck for several hours on the M62 and roads in Oldham and Rochdale, we are doing everything we can to get to them and the roads are also being cleared.

Among the teams working alongside us include firefighters, ambulance service, gritters, mountain rescue and kind-hearted members of the community that have set up rest centres.

People are being reached and helped.

For anyone planning on driving this morning … please don’t unless it is essential.

The M62 remains closed in both directions between junctions 21 and 24.

Friday morning roundup

Welcome to another day of weather onslaught. There’s little let-up in the most affected regions of the UK and Ireland, where weather warnings remain in place and police continue to advise people not to travel.

Here’s the latest:

  • Amber weather alerts for snow remain in place in central and eastern Scotland, Northern Ireland and south-west England and Wales, where strong winds continue to cause blizzards and some freezing rain.
  • A red alert that was in place for south-west England and Wales has passed, but in Ireland, Met Éireann says a “status red” national warning remains in effect, with blizzard conditions expected to continue throughout Friday.
  • Flood warnings have been issued for parts of Cornwall’s south coast on Friday morning.
  • Four people are so far known to have died in weather-related incidents. On Thursday, a seven-year-old girl died after a car crashed into a house in Looe, Cornwall; a 75-year-old woman was found dead in a street in Leeds; and a 46-year-old van driver died after a collision in Hampshire. A man who died on Wednesday in Welling, south-east London, was named as Stephen Cavanagh, 60.
  • Two teenage boys were taken to hospital with serious injuries after they were trapped under a fallen tree in Blackley, Manchester.
  • Many major routes are still blocked by heavy snow and ice, and hundreds of drivers were stranded overnight on the M62 in Greater Manchester; the A31 in Hampshire; the A35 in Dorset; and the A303 at Ilminster, where Avon and Somerset police last night declared a major incident.
  • The M9 near Stirling is blocked after a lorry jack-knifed in 8ft (2.4m) snow drifts.
  • Arriva Trains services in Wales are suspended.
  • Hundreds of homes suffered power blackouts, in central Scotland, north-east England, the Midlands, south-west England and Wales.
  • The army has been brought in to assist in several areas, helping NHS staff reach workplaces in Scotland and Lincolnshire.

We’ll have all the latest developments throughout the day here on the live blog. Do let us know conditions where you are (but stay inside if you can), in the comments below, via Twitter @Claire_Phipps, via this link or through the Guardian Witness button above.

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UK weather: snow disruption continues with hundreds of drivers stranded – live | NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).