Storm Emma: UK snow could reach 50cm as conditions worsen

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Parts of the UK are braced for up to 50cm of snow, as Storm Emma brings worsening conditions.

A highly unusual red weather warning for snow is in force for south-west England and south Wales until the early hours of Friday.

UK roads, railways and airports have been severely hit by snow for a third day, with thousands of schools shut.

A seven-year-old girl has died after a car crashed into a house in Looe, Cornwall.

In Leeds, a 75-year-old woman has been found dead in a snowy street. She was found partially hidden beneath a car in the Farsley area of the city.

Meanwhile, in the south, a 46-year-old man has died in a road crash after a collision with a lorry in icy conditions on the A34 near Tot Hill services in Berkshire.

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Earlier, a woman gave birth to a baby girl in a car on the roadside in snowy County Durham.

The baby’s father, Andrew Waring, told the BBC he opened the passenger door and knelt in the snow to help deliver his third child.

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National Grid says there may not be enough gas to meet demand in the UK.

If suppliers cannot provide more gas, industry, large businesses and gas-fired power stations will be asked to use less, but domestic consumers would only be affected as a last resort.

Children in south Wales, southern England and Scotland were off on a snow day, as thousands of schools closed.

Several sports fixtures have been disrupted by weather conditions. Four Super League rugby league have been postponed while the Premier League Darts in Exeter has been cancelled.

A red alert for snow in Scotland – the country’s first- has been lifted but an amber alert remains in place.

More than 300 people were stranded on a motorway in Scotland in freezing temperatures overnight on Wednesday – some for 20 hours.

Around 100 vehicles are stuck on the A35 near Puddletown in Dorset, which has been closed in both directions. The police have urged drivers to stay in their cars.

Some 15 law courts across Scotland have cancelled trials on Friday while the high winds have blown panels off the roof of the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital in Glasgow.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged people there not to travel, while Wales’ transport secretary has also warned against driving.

Blizzards, biting winds and significant travel disruption are also affecting southern, western and central England, parts of Wales and Northern Ireland.

This is the third day of disruption caused by heavy snowfall, with reports of “near zero visibility” on some roads in Cumbria.

In Devon and Cornwall, police have warned drivers that most minor roads are “impassable”.

As of 17:00 GMT, the RAC have reported 8,000 breakdowns across the UK with the West Midlands its busiest region.

The problems for commuters may not be over by the end of this evening with Arriva Trains Wales cancelling several of its services and suspending many others on Friday.

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How have the roads been affected?

  • The M66 between Ramsbottom and Bury has been closed due to a 16-vehicle crash. One person has been taken to hospital following the crash, and 20 others have been treated by paramedics at the scene
  • In Lincolnshire, drivers have been stuck overnight on the A52 between Boston and Skegness. Lincolnshire Police said all major routes in the county were blocked either by snow, HGVs or cars
  • On Wednesday, the RAF in Lincolnshire used 10 off-road vehicles to help transport health staff to hospitals and vulnerable people
  • Stagecoach East Midlands has suspended all rural services
  • There have been eight miles of tailbacks eastbound on the M62 between Rochdale and Huddersfield, due to the heavy snowfall

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What is happening with the trains?

Across the UK, more than 20 rail operators are running a reduced service.

In London, Paddington Station was closed for nearly three hours due to severe weather conditions, and in Kent 50 stations are closed.

National Rail is reporting mass disruption in the South East, Scotland, north-west England and the South West.

  • Virgin Trains’ west coast service to and from Scotland has not been running since mid morning. Trains to Edinburgh are still cancelled and passengers on east coast routes are urged not to travel until Saturday
  • Arriva Trains Wales is running amended timetables throughout Wales and all trains from Cardiff to Manchester have been disrupted
  • Heathrow Express services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport have been heavily affected by the earlier Paddington closure
  • East Midlands Trains are unable to run any trains between Nottingham and Skegness
  • There are numerous delays and cancellations on the Northern network, with all trains through Huddersfield delayed by up to 50 minutes or cancelled
  • Scot Rail is running limited services until 19:00 GMT between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Glasgow Central and Kilmarnock and Glasgow Central and Ayr
  • CrossCountry services are suspended between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central/Newcastle

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How are the airports affected?

Airports across Britain are being affected by the cold weather, and the knock-on effect of other terminals across the UK and Europe cancelling flights.

  • Glasgow Airport: The airport will stay closed for the rest of Thursday. More than 200 passengers spent the night in the terminal
  • Edinburgh Airport: The airport will fully close from 18:00 GMT to give staff time to prepare for Friday’s conditions
  • Dublin Airport: All flights have been suspended until Saturday
  • Cardiff Airport: Flybe has cancelled flights after 15:00 GMT due to the red weather warning in south Wales
  • East Midlands Airport: The runway has reopened after being closed because of the snow but it warns passengers of cancellations and delays
  • Heathrow Airport: Some flights have been cancelled, with short-haul flights to airports including Dublin and Glasgow severely affected
  • Gatwick Airport: About 50 of the 350 flights due to depart from the terminal have been cancelled and there are also significant delays to other flights. Customers are advised to check before travelling
  • City Airport: There are multiple cancellations and delays at the airport, mainly affecting Irish and internal flights

What is the forecast?

The Met Office says the cold weather could last into next week and possibly the following week.

BBC Weather’s Ben Rich predicted “blizzard conditions” by Thursday evening across south-west England, Wales and parts of the Midlands.

He said a “biting easterly wind” will make it feel like -11C (12F) in Birmingham and Cardiff – on what is the first day of meteorological spring.

There is potential for up to 50cm (19.6 inches) of snow over parts of Dartmoor and Exmoor, the Met Office added, with up to 20cm (7.8 inches) falling in southern England, Wales and the West Midlands.

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