Snow, Sleet And Ice Bring Travel Havoc

2:25pm UK, Tuesday January 05, 2010

Alison Chung, Sky News Online

Travellers are facing major disruption at airports and on trains and roads as the freezing weather continues to tighten its grip across the UK.

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Heavy snow forced Manchester and Liverpool John Lennon airports to shut this morning but both have reopened.

However, dozens of flights have been delayed or cancelled at both airports and passengers warned to expect a "slow departure rate".

Flights have also been delayed at Gatwick, Glasgow, Aberdeen Newcastle, Durham Tees Valley, Leeds Bradford International, Belfast and Derry airports.

Air passengers have been urged to contact their airlines for the latest information on their flights.

Many rail services in Scotland have been disrupted, while there have been delays and cancellations to trains in eastern England.

On the roads, conditions have been particularly bad in Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Northumberland and Scotland.

Snow caused a section of the A66 to be shut in both directions in Cumbria and a series of accidents added to drivers' difficulties on many routes.

In one crash on the M60 near Bredbury in Greater Manchester, a lorry driver was killed.

The Highways Agency said 500 gritters and snowploughs had been working flat out treating motorways and major 'A' roads to keep them open.

But drivers have been advised by the agency to consider whether their journeys are essential before travelling.

Latest On Britain's Big Freeze Disruption

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The RAC said that by 10am it had already attended 3,500 breakdowns and was dealing with around 1,400 incidents an hour.

Bus services in Sheffield and Barnsley have been stopped temporarily and in Leeds, refuse collection services have been suspended.

Sky's North of England correspondent Tom Parmenter said: "From what people say, it's certainly the worst situation they have seen and can remember for a few years."

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Meanwhile, hundreds of schools across the UK have been closed and a large-scale search is under way for a North Yorkshire man who went missing on Sunday morning

Football bosses have postponed Blackburn's Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Aston Villa, and Manchester City's clash with Manchester United.

The filming of TV soap Coronation Street grounded to a halt in Manchester, as did that on the Emmerdale set based in Leeds.

There have also been reports of shoppers panic-buying, with supermarkets seeing increased sales in Wellington boots, take-away food and thermal underwear.

Your Snow Experiences

Benji and Chester enjoy the snow, by David Giles

Forecasters say the snow that has blanketed large parts of Scotland and Ireland is moving south.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for the South East and warned of travel problems due to snow and sleet.

Isobel Lang, Sky weather presenter, said: "It's going to be very tricky to put detail on the worst of the snow or ice, but at this stage it looks as though Tuesday's snow could cause major problems across more central and later southern parts of England.

"This snow threat continues overnight and into Wednesday. After that the risk extends more widely again up the eastern side of Britain."

Brendan Jones, forecaster at MeteoGroup, said the cold spell is one of "the lengthiest" experienced in the UK since 1995-96.

British Winters

    1947: snowiest of the 20th century with snow somewhere every day for six weeks

    1962/1963: coldest in living memory, the sea at Herne Bay in Kent froze

    1979: average temperature for January was below freezing

    1987: temperatures below -5C across country on Jan 12

    2009: all London buses removed from service on Feb 2 following snow

People enjoy the snow on a hill at Lyme Park in Disley, Stockport

Grit stocks in England are holding up according to the Highways Agency, but Fife council in Scotland had to have several hundred tonnes of salt and grit delivered by the Scottish government after supplies ran low.

The National Grid has warned power suppliers to use less gas after seeing a 30% rise on normal seasonal demand during the cold snap.

But Gordon Brown denied the country was facing a gas supply crisis.

"There are always difficulties when we have a long spell of bad weather, but we can cope," he said.

Find out how the snow and ice is affecting you.