Radio Sandwell News

Heavy snow causes disruption while rain risks flooding

2013-01-26 11:30:30

Heavy snow across parts of the UK has caused major travel disruption, as forecasters say more wet weather and milder temperatures may bring flooding.

Motorists on the M6 were forced to abandon their cars in the early hours of Saturday morning, as snow grounded planes at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Forecasters warn rain and milder weather - causing snow to thaw quickly - could lead to flooding.

There has been flooding in Wales, and there are 20 flood warnings in place.

Temperatures are expected to reach an average 4C on Saturday.

As well as 20 flood warnings for south-west England and Wales, the Environment Agency has more than 70 flood alerts in place.

'Stay in your car'

During the night, the Highways Agency closed the M6 motorway in both directions between junctions 25 and 27 near Wigan, after cars and lorries became stuck in the snow.

A shelter was set up at Charnock Services - close to junction 28 - for motorists forced to leave their vehicles in poor driving conditions and freezing temperatures.

David Morris, the Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, was stuck on the M6 near Wigan for more than three hours.

He told the BBC the snow "came from nowhere".

"The gritters were out doing their job, everybody's been doing all they can do to help.

"It's a surreal scene to be had. We've even been having snowball fights on the M6."

Another driver, who said he was stuck near junction 25 on the M6 for three hours, Neil Turner, said "it was horrible".

"It was very cold, everyone was chatting, trying to keep warm. There was just no movement," he said.

Lancashire Police also worked with Lancashire Mountain Rescue teams, the Highways Agency and Greater Manchester Police to clear roads and provide welfare assistance to those who were stranded.

The Highway Agency worked throughout the night to clear the routes with snow ploughs.

A spokesman for the agency urged those who had abandoned their cars to return to them as soon as possible.

"The snowfall was very sudden and very heavy - over a foot in some places - causing cars to become stranded," he said.

"But we have managed to get through the traffic and clear most routes to get people moving again.

"We are urging those who have abandoned their cars to collect them. All we can do is move them to the side for now, but it makes it difficult to clear routes.

"With the rain falling and ice melting onto very cold road surfaces, we are now warning drivers of the danger of ice."

The M56 was also affected by closures due to the snow.

Cumbria has also been badly affected by snow, where police say many minor roads are impassable.

In south-west Wales, flooding has already caused problems - particularly in Whitland in Carmarthenshire and Narberth, Haverfordwest, and St David's in Pembrokeshire.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service said it had received more than 270 calls on Friday evening, with "quite a large number of flooding incidents" across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthen and Swansea, including incidents of properties flooding and people becoming trapped in their cars.

Local councils have been asked to assist with sandbags and unblocking drains.

In Narberth, Pembrokeshire, residents are reported to be battling to keep water out of their homes, and roads in the area are flooded.

Local councillor Wyn Evans told the BBC that melting snow and torrential rain had caused "severe flooding and destruction" in the area.

"Even our police station has been flooded this evening and that's never ever happened before, so all our police officers had to relocate elsewhere," he said.

'Some delays'

Meanwhile, the Met Office has issued an amber warning for snow - meaning be prepared - across the Midlands, London and south-east England.

All flights were suspended at Leeds Bradford International Airport during Friday night as further snow hit most of the Yorkshire area.

The airport has now reopened, although passengers are being warned to expect delays and disruption.

BBC weather forecaster Peter Sloss said snow already affecting much of northern England and the Midlands had extended to high ground in south-east England and East Anglia during the night.

He said that while heavy rain was affecting south Wales and south-west England, drier conditions in Northern Ireland and much of Scotland would extend to most places on Saturday.

It would be a bright, fine day with "more sunshine than we have seen in some time".

But clearing skies could lead to a risk of ice across central and eastern areas into Saturday morning, he warned.

Looking forward, he said wet and windy weather would affect much of the country on Saturday night.

And a combination of heavy rain and milder air thawing the snow could lead to localised flooding on Saturday night and Sunday.


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