Heavy snow brings travel chaos and disruption to UK


Heavy snowfall has closed hundreds of schools, temporarily shut down airport, disrupted rail services and brought traffic to a standstill on some roads in the north-west.

In Scotland, 29 schools and nurseries closed in the Highlands and 22 in Dumfries and Galloway, while more than 130 schools were closed across .

Cumbrian authorities closed 34 schools, half of them in Carlisle. Twenty schools in Oldham, , were also shut because of snow, as were 13 in Rossendale, Lancashire.

Snow falls in the Loxley area of Sheffield.
Snow falls in the Loxley area of Sheffield. Photograph: Dave Higgens/PA

Most of the secondary schools and large numbers of primary schools in Sheffield were shut, and cross-Pennine routes were badly affected.

Tram services in the city were also affected by the blizzard, with some routes blocked by abandoned cars as well as hazardous surface conditions.

The Snake Pass Inn, at the eastern end of the pass on the A57 between Sheffield and Manchester, : “Thinking of attempting the SnakePass? Seriously don’t. High winds and heavy snow, can just about see where our car park is. #snowstormtim.”

The Snake Pass Inn (@MikeSnakePass)

Thinking of attempting the ? Seriously don't. High winds and heavy snow, can just about see where our car park is.

At Britain’s third busiest airport in Manchester, staff struggled to clear walkways with snow shovels as the airport repeatedly postponed the time that runways would reopen and flights resume.

“Following the poor weather experienced this morning, flights have now resumed but are subject to delays,” an airport spokesman said on Thursday afternoon.

“The safety and security of our passengers is paramount and we continue to make significant efforts to clear snow from other parts of the airfield.

“Further periods of poor weather are forecast for the rest of the day and we would ask all passengers to contact their airline before travelling to Manchester airport.”

The Met Office said the deepest snow fell in , northern England and Northern Ireland. Tulloch bridge in Inverness-shire had 23cm (9in) of snow while there was 21cm at Glenanne in Armagh, and Spadeadam in Cumbria had 13cm.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, the transport minister, Derek McKay, said more than 180 road gritters had been deployed overnight.

In Northern Ireland, up to 15cm of snow fell in some areas, with 120 gritters having been used on Wednesday night to salt roads.

NI said snow showers were continuing to affect the road network on Thursday morning and with sub-zero road surface temperatures there was also the risk of ice on roads.

A farmer uses a tractor to clear a road of snow in Oakenshaw, County Durham. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

In the Irish republic, Met Éireann upgraded its weather warning for the border counties of Cavan and Monaghan to orange.

About 1,700 homes in parts of Monaghan had no power and some roads in the county were closed.

for most of the UK.

“There is thundersnow to the north of Manchester – these are normal thunderstorms but with snow rather than rain. The lightning on the white flakes is quite dramatic,” said the Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge.

in the Innerleithen area on the Scottish borders involving a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter with an infrared camera. She was found unconscious by a search and rescue dog.

More than a dozen rail services between Manchester and York had been cancelled, with First TransPennine Express saying it planned to run as many trains as possible and that the cancellations were a precaution.

The Highways Agency said heavy snow had fallen across the north and main roads in Durham and Yorkshire had been closed because of the bad weather.

Terminal 1 at Manchester airport covered in a blanket of snow, which has closed the airport. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

The bad weather forced lifeboat and helicopter crews to overnight in the Channel for a fishing boat with four crew members, but it resumed on Thursday morning. The vessel vanished in rough seas and gale-force winds.

The weather was forecast to turn slightly milder on Friday, reaching up to 7C in the south, but an Arctic blast was expected send a fresh wave of snow and freezing temperatures across the country over the weekend.

Health experts urged vulnerable people to stay warm and not take unnecessary risks.

Dr Angie Bone, head of extreme events at Public Health England, said: “Parts of England are really going to feel cold for the next few days so it’s really important people take extra care when out and about.”

David Cameron said he had asked for an update on heavy-snow contingency plans.